US20120190386A1 - Wireless location establishing device - Google Patents

Wireless location establishing device Download PDF

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US20120190386A1
US20120190386A1 US13/359,394 US201213359394A US2012190386A1 US 20120190386 A1 US20120190386 A1 US 20120190386A1 US 201213359394 A US201213359394 A US 201213359394A US 2012190386 A1 US2012190386 A1 US 2012190386A1
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user
tilz
users
profile
widge
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Victor Thomas Anderson
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Victor Thomas Anderson
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/02Services making use of location information
    • H04W4/021Services related to particular areas, e.g. point of interest [POI] services, venue services or geofences
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01CMEASURING DISTANCES, LEVELS OR BEARINGS; SURVEYING; NAVIGATION; GYROSCOPIC INSTRUMENTS; PHOTOGRAMMETRY OR VIDEOGRAMMETRY
    • G01C15/00Surveying instruments or accessories not provided for in groups G01C1/00 - G01C13/00
    • G01C15/02Means for marking measuring points
    • G01C15/04Permanent marks; Boundary markers
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S19/00Satellite radio beacon positioning systems; Determining position, velocity or attitude using signals transmitted by such systems
    • G01S19/01Satellite radio beacon positioning systems transmitting time-stamped messages, e.g. GPS [Global Positioning System], GLONASS [Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System] or GALILEO
    • G01S19/13Receivers
    • G01S19/14Receivers specially adapted for specific applications
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S19/00Satellite radio beacon positioning systems; Determining position, velocity or attitude using signals transmitted by such systems
    • G01S19/01Satellite radio beacon positioning systems transmitting time-stamped messages, e.g. GPS [Global Positioning System], GLONASS [Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System] or GALILEO
    • G01S19/13Receivers
    • G01S19/35Constructional details or hardware or software details of the signal processing chain
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S19/00Satellite radio beacon positioning systems; Determining position, velocity or attitude using signals transmitted by such systems
    • G01S19/38Determining a navigation solution using signals transmitted by a satellite radio beacon positioning system
    • G01S19/39Determining a navigation solution using signals transmitted by a satellite radio beacon positioning system the satellite radio beacon positioning system transmitting time-stamped messages, e.g. GPS [Global Positioning System], GLONASS [Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System] or GALILEO
    • G01S19/42Determining position
    • G01S19/48Determining position by combining or switching between position solutions derived from the satellite radio beacon positioning system and position solutions derived from a further system
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/30Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications involving profiles
    • H04L67/306User profiles

Abstract

A system, method, service and wireless location-establishing device are disclosed, which locates its position by a plurality of means, including GPS satellite interrogation and triangulation. Alternative methods of location establishment include triangulating location data from nearby location-established objects such as WiFi or cell site towers, as well as from other present Invention location establishing devices (“Survey Eggs”). Once location has been established, the device can transmit and receive a variety of data based upon location, profile, and other factors, facilitating novel interactions and transactions.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a Continuation-in-Part of and claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/366,525, filed on Feb. 5, 2009, which claims the benefit of Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/026,262, filed Feb. 5, 2008, Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/037,499, filed Mar. 18, 2008, Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/038,617, filed Mar. 21, 2008, Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/039,839, filed Mar. 27, 2008, Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/040,243, filed Mar. 28, 2008, and Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/042,663, filed Apr. 4, 2008. The foregoing patent applications are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The principles of the present invention relate to a location establishing method, location establishing devices, and a location establishing service and system, that has applications for many fields, including property surveys. Additionally, the present invention relates to a method and system of data transmission and reception. The data transmission and reception includes, but is not limited to, such items as information, advertisements, offers, and profiles.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE CONVENTIONAL ART
  • At present, when performing a boundary survey for a particular property, survey instruments are utilized to locate the corners of a property owner's lot. The surveyors often mark these corners by driving wooden stakes in the ground.
  • When the work is done that necessitated the boundary survey, the wooden stakes are (often) removed.
  • Unfortunately for the property owner, if additional work needs to be done, say a few years later, the owner must incur the cost of performing another boundary survey all over again (with potentially varying results).
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present Invention is conceived as a response to the above-described disadvantages of the conventional art. The present Invention relates to wireless, location-establishing devices (hereafter “Survey Eggs”), that are wireless Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) devices that enable surveyors to permanently locate the boundary points of property lines. Survey Eggs address problems such as having a property owner's boundary surveyed over and over, for thousands of dollars each time the owner, say, renovates their property.
  • Accordingly, a cost-efficient method for providing permanent location information is needed.
  • Survey Eggs can be placed in the ground once (FIG. 4), and property owners can have their boundary points located permanently.
  • Once established, Survey Egg boundary points can, for instance, be mashed up with satellite map data allowing property boundary lines to be displayed on services such as online maps, as well as synchronized with official parcel maps (FIG. 4).
  • The principles of the present invention also relate to another embodiment, with a focus on commercial, municipal and government applications for surveys, highways, roads, and paths; in addition to, information communication to police, DMV, car companies, other users, etc. This ruggedized embodiment is referred to as “Gotz Dotz” for convenience. Gotz Dotz can, for example, replace Botts' Dots on highways, and are designed to withstand being run over by vehicles.
  • The principles of the present invention also relate to yet another embodiment, which shall be referred hereafter to as “Survey Nuts” for convenience, which are devices that do not utilize satellite GPS to locate themselves, instead triangulating from three or more of the boundary Survey Eggs (or other location-established Survey Nuts). Survey Nuts are intended to be placed in every corner and key point of a structure. Once in place Survey Nuts can, for instance, provide a three dimensional electronic blueprint 195 of that structure.
  • In addition to survey-related uses, property owners can utilize Survey Eggs/Nuts to mini-broadcast a commerce communications cloud—an extranet referred to as a “ComCloud” for convenience—from (or within) their property to (a) synchronously interact with others without necessarily utilizing the Internet.
  • For example (FIG. 5), the property owner can, via means such as Bluetooth, wirelessly post their “garage sale” items to their ComCloud. Others with devices such as mobile handsets who are walking or driving by 503 and who have created a profile of items they are shopping for, are notified of profile matches for the “garage sale” items. The two parties can then message each other via the ComCloud to set up a time to inspect and possibly purchase the item(s).
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Survey Eggs address and disrupt the vast worldwide market for property/structure surveys. Hundreds of millions of surveys are performed worldwide each year, with an average cost often above $1,000 in developed countries. Because most boundary surveys do not leave permanent boundary markers such surveys may be performed over and over again on the same property/structure.
  • Performing the same boundary survey over and over again is extremely wasteful. Survey Eggs address this obvious problem with a new type of permanent electronic boundary/survey marker 403, 404, 405, 406.
  • The subdivision maps 401 maintained at County Assessor's Offices are sometimes inaccurate, especially for older subdivisions.
  • Most subdivision maps rely on what are called Survey Monuments. These are physical nails or plaques that are placed in/on the ground and act as the reference points for official subdivision surveys. Over time however, some Survey Monuments are lost or incorrectly replaced. This happens, for example, when a Survey Monument is located in a sidewalk or road that is torn up to access underground utilities, and then re-surfaced. Survey Monuments are supposed to be replaced in exactly the same spot, but in practice they are sometimes replaced inaccurately.
  • The result is tens of billions of dollars of wasted time, and unnecessarily lengthy surveys, to re-establish an accurate starting point for each survey. Survey Eggs also act as permanent and accurately re-locatable Survey Monuments.
  • Among other uses, Survey Eggs amass location data to produce subdivision plot maps that may be more accurate than those currently available, and are continuously available at minimal cost—compared to the thousands of dollars spent each time a plot owner needs to do any redevelopment (such as building a new house, or a house addition, or a new sidewalk, or new road, or municipal building, etc.).
  • The online plot maps Survey Eggs produce provide impetus for resolution of differing boundary surveys—as well as a basis for updating inaccurate legal descriptions of properties—all of which benefits property owners and Assessor's Offices in producing highly reliable and accurate property boundary 402 and subdivision 401 maps.
  • Surveyors (In embodiments, surveyors install and maintain Survey Eggs, and may revenue share the software, services and transaction income from those Survey Eggs); Government entities (Municipalities may offer new residents a discount on boundary Survey Egg service fees in exchange, for example, for a portion of the Survey Egg CloudCast monthly revenue); Architects (Because architects require the survey (and blueprint) data, they may market Survey Eggs to clients on a monthly basis (with an ongoing revenue sharing relationship), rather than utilizing conventional art (one-time) survey (and blueprint) techniques/methods); Geology organizations (may want the types of datasets that Survey Eggs produce, and seek grants/funds to obtain (aggregated) Survey Egg data); Tourist boards (may co-market the ComCloud travel guide features, in exchange for a cut of revenue from paid guides/tours); Web Drops (Web Drops are places in the real world where users (or objects) can gain access to a wider network of other users or objects, generally via wireless networks, both paid (such as a carrier wireless network) and unpaid (such as Bluetooth). For example, in embodiments, Survey Eggs can be utilized to transfer cellphone (wireless) traffic to landline/fiber optic networks).
  • Survey Eggs provide vital connections between the online and offline worlds, and may play a vital role in the transformation of the conventional art network architecture. Survey Eggs/Nuts not only establish locations, but fundamentally change people's lives, via the interactions and transactions enabled by Survey Eggs CloudCast, as well as the marketing and merchandising of products and services.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The Invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals identify like or similar elements, and wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a functional block diagram and schematic of an exemplifying architecture of an embodiment of a wireless location-establishing device and system in accordance with the Invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic of an exemplifying architecture of an embodiment illustrating how a user might physically interact with and manage the Invention.
  • FIG. 3 is a depiction of one of a plurality of Invention installation embodiments, in this case above-grade, on a spike, and powered by a solar cell array.
  • FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating how installing the Invention (“Survey Eggs”) at the corners of a property, enables the Survey Eggs to calculate distances and thereby create a boundary survey map, that can be synchronized electronically with an official parcel map.
  • FIG. 5 is an exemplifying diagram illustrating an embodiment of a system, service and method for broadcasting and matching profiles in accordance with the Invention.
  • FIG. 6 is a diagram of an exemplifying architecture of an embodiment of a wireless location establishing device establishing its location via a plurality of means including, Internet-based data, nearby location-established structures such as WiFi towers, or even other location-establishing devices—including such devices as various Invention device embodiments referred to as Survey Eggs or Survey Nuts.
  • FIG. 7 is a diagram of an exemplifying architecture of an embodiment of a wireless location-establishing device establishing its location via triangulation.
  • FIG. 8 is a screenshot illustrating an embodiment of an example data display modality, that the Invention owner can customize via their computing device or mobile handset, and which is based upon various optional Invention attachments.
  • FIG. 9 is a diagram of an exemplifying architecture of an embodiment wherein the Invention is employed by a commercial enterprise to facilitate a profile broadcast, and thereby interact and transact with users.
  • FIG. 10 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example of advertising profile acquisition, creation, and matching, as per the Invention's facilities and algorithms.
  • FIG. 11 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein a user scans a movie ad in a newspaper, whereupon the user's movie profile is updated, and thereby the movie-providing entities send ads, offers, and information per the user's profile.
  • FIG. 12 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example user profile, wherein the movie profile is informed by a data tile for every movie the user has already seen, in addition to a tile for each movie the user would like to see in the future; as combined with optional location and score data.
  • FIG. 13 is a functional block diagram illustrating a depiction of a user's advertising profile, and the constituent elements therein; in addition to a depiction of an embodiment of a simple schematic illustrating the functional relationships between the user and the product and service providers.
  • FIG. 14 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of example process steps followed by advertisers as they first pay a user to view and review a user's profile, to thereby determine if it's advantageous to pay to send the user ads; and further consider paying additional monies for priority data placement (an unique variation on paid search, wherein the user is paid; as opposed to a middleman entity).
  • FIG. 15 is an illustrative example of an embodiment of the profile creation process depicting one of a plurality of profile creation and management user interface screens; in this case, manual profile creation via checklists or barcode scanning (as opposed to the Invention's automatic profile creation facilities).
  • FIG. 16 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example user interface screen, wherein the value of information in a profile is measured (among other factors) by how current, how fresh, the information is.
  • FIG. 17 is a diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein products are interacting with the user (via the use of RFID); as per the user's profile the Invention is allowing the crackers to send the user information, but not allowing information from the soup or cereal. Additionally, the diagram illustrates an embodiment of an example of how scanning the grocery receipt can, if the user wishes, automatically add those items from that purchase to the user's ad profile.
  • FIG. 18 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example architecture wherein a user's ad profile informs how, when and where a user would like to receive ads, in addition to which ads to receive.
  • FIG. 19 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example of an unique ad management facility, a Spherez, wherein ads/offers/info/et. al. a user receives are received in thumbnail tiles that are mapped onto (in this case) a sphere; whereupon the sphere information management facility attracts like content to it, for which the user may be paid directly by the ad sender, for prominent placement on the user's topic-specific sphere.
  • FIG. 20 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example of coupon profile acquisition, creation, and matching, as per the Invention's facilities and algorithms.
  • FIG. 21 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein a user scans a movie ad in a newspaper, whereupon the user's movie profile is updated, and thereby the movie-providing entities send coupons, offers, and information per the user's profile.
  • FIG. 22 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a depiction of a user's coupon profile, and the constituent elements therein; in addition to a depiction of an embodiment of a simple schematic illustrating the functional relationships between the user and the product and service providers.
  • FIG. 23 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of example process steps followed by advertisers as they first pay a user to view and review a user's profile, to thereby determine if it's advantageous to pay to send the user coupons; and further consider paying additional monies for priority data placement (an unique variation on paid search, wherein the user is paid; as opposed to a middleman entity).
  • FIG. 24 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example of an unique information management facility, a Spherez, wherein coupons/offers/info/et. al. a user receives are received in thumbnail tiles that are mapped onto (in this case) a sphere; whereupon the sphere information management facility attracts like content to it, for which the user may be paid directly by the coupon sender, for prominent placement on the user's topic-specific sphere.
  • FIG. 25 is a diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein products are interacting with the user (via the use of RFID); as per the user's profile the Invention is allowing the crackers to send the user information, but not allowing information from the soup or cereal. Additionally, the diagram illustrates an embodiment of an example of how scanning the grocery receipt can, if the user wishes, automatically add those items from that purchase to the user's coupon profile.
  • FIG. 26 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example architecture wherein a user's coupon profile informs how, when and where a user would like to receive coupons, in addition to which coupons to receive.
  • FIG. 27 is an illustrative example of an embodiment of the profile creation process depicting one of a plurality of profile creation and management user interface screens; in this case, manual profile creating via checklists or barcode scanning (as opposed to the Invention's automatic profile creation facilities).
  • FIG. 28 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture of a method for server-side profile configuration and transaction facilitation as per mobile handset scanning and broadcast.
  • FIG. 29 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example wherein both product/service providers as well as the user broadcast their profiles, which are then profile-matched by the Invention; thereupon filtering for just those coupons/offers/information/et. al. the user desires.
  • FIG. 30 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a depiction of the transmutation process, wherein a plurality of content on a traditional Website is filtered as per a user's profile for just the desired subset of content, which is then transferred to the user's device as a ParaSite, a customized local copy of the Website; in addition to a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of a method for extracting the profile-based subset of content which informs the ParaSite—the customized local copy of the Website.
  • FIG. 31 is a depiction of an embodiment of a method for users to navigate through the thumbnail tiles representing their various custom, local Websites (ParaSites); which can be accomplished on a touchscreen by flicking through the tiles with one's finger.
  • FIG. 32 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example of an unique information management facility, wherein ParaSites (custom, local Websites) a user receives are received in thumbnail tiles that are mapped onto (in this case) a sphere; whereupon the sphere information management facility attracts like content to it. A sphere is a convenient navigation modality for ParaSites, particularly on mobile handset-sized devices.
  • FIG. 33 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture for a method whereby real world interactions inform changes to a user's ParaSite.
  • FIG. 34 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture of a method for server-side profile configuration and transaction facilitation as per mobile handset scanning and broadcast.
  • FIG. 35 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of example process steps followed by advertisers as they first pay a user to view and review a user's profile, to thereby determine if it advantageous to pay to send the user ads; and further consider paying additional monies for priority data placement (an unique variation on paid search, wherein the user is paid; as opposed to a middleman entity).
  • FIG. 36 is a functional block diagram of an embodiment of an example of profile-based links Unlike links on Webpages, which take different users who click on the same link to the same destination, ParaSites links are profile-based, and thus take different users to different destinations based upon each user's profile.
  • FIG. 37 is a depiction of an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture illustrating a method by which users can create ParaSites, and the interactive relationship between the hosted Website and the ParaSite.
  • FIG. 38 is a table illustrating the distinctions between the Web's (and therefore Websites') aging fundamental technologies, and their modern, designed for the mobile handset age, replacements including the present Invention's constituent components, data “tiles” (hereafter “Tilz”), which supplant and/or update the aging hypertext markup language protocol.
  • FIG. 39 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture of a ParaSite, that not only is a Tilz as whole, but each element of the ParaSite (text, photos, ads, etc.) are each Tilz themselves—each Tilz with its own IP address. Tilz within Tilz.
  • FIG. 40 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a depiction of the transmutation process, wherein content in any language format is translated into the Invention's unique universal mobile digital-content format MDF—everything is transmuted into one thing, a Tilz. Providing additional detail is a functional block diagram of an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture of the client and server software systems that inform the Tilz Platform functionality.
  • FIG. 41 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example of how Tilz can be utilized to program a user's ceiling fan light while the user is away on vacation.
  • FIG. 42 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example user profile, wherein the movie profile is informed by a tile of information, a Tilz, for every movie the user has already seen, in addition to a Tilz for each movie the user would like to see in the future; as combined with optional location and score data.
  • FIG. 43 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example of Tilz as the constituent elements of a user's profile broadcast which was just informed by the user scanning an ad for a movie the user wanted to see; whereupon a commercial slot is later filled when that user watches TV by the Tilz of the movie trailer for the movie whose ad the user scanned.
  • FIG. 44 is an illustration of an embodiment of an example depiction of the conceptual basis for Tilz: Tilz are like a digital baseball card for every object, person, idea, anything, everything.
  • FIG. 45 is a table illustrating the distinctions between the Web's aging fundamental technologies, and their modern, designed for the mobile handset age, replacements including the present Invention, Tilz which supplant and update the aging hypertext markup language protocol.
  • FIG. 46 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture of a Website, that not only is a Tilz as whole, but each element of the Website (text, photos, ads, etc.) are each Tilz themselves—each Tilz with its own IP address. Tilz within Tilz.
  • FIG. 47 is a functional block diagram of an embodiment of an example of profile-based links Tilz, which functionally replaces Websites, also contain links to additional information; however, unlike links on Webpages, which take different users who click on the same link to the same destination, Tilz links are profile-based, and thus may take different users to different destinations based upon each user's profile.
  • FIG. 48 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example of Tilz as the constituent elements of profiles, which are matched, by matching the data/metadata appurtenant to Tilz; thereby facilitating desirable features such as Tilz-based profiles preventing information overload. Only desired content (Tilz) gets through to the user.
  • FIG. 49 is a depiction of an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture illustrating a plurality of methods by which users can create Tilz.
  • FIG. 50 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example of profile acquisition, creation, and matching, as per the Invention's facilities and algorithms.
  • FIG. 51 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example of a simplified hardware for an embodiment of the present Invention (Mobi), and the functional facilities that inform one or more Mobi embodiments.
  • FIG. 52 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a depiction of a user's profile broadcast, which the user creates with, and, in some embodiments, broadcasts from, the present Invention; in addition to a depiction of an embodiment of a simple schematic illustrating the functional relationships between the user and the product and service providers.
  • FIG. 53 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example wherein both product/service providers as well as the user broadcast their profiles, which are then profile-matched by the Invention; thereupon filtering for just those ads/coupons/information/et. al. the user desires.
  • FIG. 54 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture of a method for server-side profile configuration and transaction facilitation as per mobile handset scanning and broadcast.
  • FIG. 55 is a diagram of an embodiment of an example of the present Invention.
  • FIG. 56 is a diagram of an embodiment of an example of the present Invention.
  • FIG. 57 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example of an unique information management facility, a Spherez, wherein data a user receives are configured into thumbnail tiles that are mapped onto (in this case) a sphere; whereupon the sphere information management facility attracts like content to it, for which the user may be paid directly by the data tile sender, for prominent placement on the user's topic-specific sphere.
  • FIG. 58 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a depiction of a method for determining whether an intersection of interest exists pursuant to interactions and/or transactions.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The present Invention is described in one or more embodiments in the following description with references to the Figures. While the Invention is described in terms of the primary modes for achieving the Invention's objectives, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that it is intended to cover alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the Invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents as supported by the disclosures and drawings herein.
  • Devices
  • Shaped and sized slightly larger than a hen's egg in a preferred embodiment FIG. 1, although other embodiments contemplate other sizes, compact, secure, waterproof Survey Eggs contain a GPS device that can accurately locate its position in one of several ways including (FIG. 7): communicating with orbiting GPS satellites 701 or triangulating from three or more location-established fixed objects such as WiFi 601 or cell site towers 701.
  • Survey Eggs enable, for instance, surveyors to permanently establish the boundary points of property lines. The resultant boundary/location information 402 can then be transmitted to subscribers, such as the Survey Eggs Website, the user, any number of online map services, or even the County Assessor's office for official filing 401. Survey Eggs address the problem wherein property owners pay over and over again to have boundary points located, at considerable expense each time. Survey Eggs are placed in the ground once, and for an optional monthly fee, boundary points are permanently located and signaled. Once location has been established, the device(s) can transmit and receive a variety of data based upon location, profile, and other factors, facilitating novel interactions and transactions.
  • A ruggedized embodiment, Gotz Dotz, are compact, secure, waterproof, reflective, location aware, intelligent path marking units (primarily utilized in commercial, municipal, and federal applications), that may serve, for instance, as replacement for Botts' dots on highways to divide lanes of traffic. Gotz Dotz can also comprise a wireless service network (method) to store and transmit geo-based data.
  • Another embodiment, Survey Nuts, are typically smaller location sensing devices. They are primarily intended for use in establishing all the corners and edges of structures—and are often installed at the time the structure in being constructed. Once in place they can, for instance, produce a three dimensional electronic blueprint of the structure 195.
  • Potential Survey Egg/Nut Points
  • 50 million single family home plots in the U.S. (and almost 1 billion worldwide) with 3 points minimum (and a greater number for rectangular or odd-shaped lots), plus multi-family dwellings such as apartments/condos, plus commercial structures/buildings such as office buildings, gas stations, grocery stores, etc.
  • Roads, bridges, antennae, street light posts, telephone poles, ocean buoys, mountaintops, streams, glacier edges (to monitor melting), etc.
  • City, county, state, and national survey points: buildings, parks, monuments, sidewalks, etc.
  • Survey Egg Extranet
  • In addition to survey-related uses, property owners can utilize Survey Eggs to mini-broadcast a commerce communications cloud (“ComCloud”)—essentially an extranet from their property to (a) synchronously interact with others (and other entities) via mobile device (or other devices) without necessarily utilizing the Internet. Users can post items to their ComCloud, which can notify others walking by with a profile seeking one of those items. Survey Eggs are capable of storing information beyond their basic location information. Survey Eggs software enables the user to download data and compatible applications, such as ComCloud management software. Downloading is accomplished via any of the networking communications protocols resident on that particular Survey Egg. The ComCloud can access and utilize a user's broadband Internet access via WiFi, or other means; however user-supplied Internet access is not necessary for a ComCloud to function. ComCloud is broadcast (CloudCast) via various means such as Bluetooth, WiFi, wireless carrier network, and other means. A software widget enables users to utilize their mobile device (among other devices) to place items into their CloudCast. For example, the Bluetooth onboard the Survey Egg can be utilized to broadcast (CloudCast) user-supplied information/profiles over a distance of up to 100 meters or more from the location of any given (boundary marker) Survey Egg. So too, ads and offers, can be stored on, and delivered by, Survey Eggs without need for the Internet. And because Survey Eggs may be utilized by businesses, as well as individuals, Survey Eggs may disrupt/improve the way people get information, communicate, interact, transact, and buy and sell.
  • With the ComCloud management software installed, the user can manage, via various digital devices such as a mobile handset, the information broadcast by the ComCloud created by their boundary marker Survey Eggs. A digital dashboard is supplied to manage the ComCloud, including selecting the networking protocol utilized, managing the content, and setting the range of the broadcast (e.g. via online mapping service).
  • Once established the ComCloud can perform a number of functions (FIG. 5):
  • Automatically alert the power company in the case of a power outage.
    Provide lifeline alerts for the elderly. The elderly can, for example, wear a tiny Bluetooth or WiFi pendant. In embodiments, the pendant features a button for the person to press if they are in distress.
    Advertising local or property needs or information;
  • Such as:
  • House is for sale—and provides the details (price, square footage, digital brochure, etc.).
  • Homeowners can accept offers of interest from others, via a vis purchasing their home. Thus, when it comes time to sell their home, homeowners may not need the marketing services of a real estate agent, since the homeowner may have amassed a number of leads/names/profiles of parties interested in purchasing the home, thereby possibly saving thousands of dollars in real estate agent commissions.
  • Continuous garage sale items—not just on weekends, and without having to haul all their stuff into the driveway. Users 503 can digitally offer their items without, for example, eBay (or similar) listing fees.
  • Services wanted (for example, homeowner posts requests for proposals (RFPs) or otherwise seeks bids for a new paver stone driveway) 504.
  • Homeowners can broadcast profiles of service providers to that home. For example, if a neighbor is strolling past a house, notices the well kept yard, and wants to know the name of gardening service that keeps that yard so nice, the homeowner's ComCloud can supply the profile data tiles or “Tilz” (digital content format) of the homeowner's gardener, and possibly receive a fee from the gardener for “marketing” the gardener's business—a novel type of search; and a novel type of location-based marketing and advertising.
  • If, for example, a passerby 503 to the homeowner's property, likes the iron work on the homeowner's front gate, the information Tilz may be obtained from the homeowner's Survey Egg ComCloud. And the homeowner may get paid a commission, when an interested party who receives the ironwork gate Tilz, later purchases from that company.
  • When a user has guests over to their house, and the guest admires, say, the new granite countertops, the ComCloud can (if the homeowners wishes) deliver the Tilz of the granite countertop retailer/installer—and thereby possibly receive a marketing commission from the countertop retailer/installer. And the homeowner may get paid another commission if the party who received the Tilz from the Survey Egg/Nut ComCloud, later transacts with the granite countertop retailer/installer.
  • In fact, all contractors who ever worked on a person's house, and manufacturer's for every item a person owns in that house, can pay the homeowner to be on the homeowner's “CloudCast” (the ComCloud broadcast). All items: painting, artwork, silverware, couches, TVs, light fixtures, clothes . . . literally everything that user owns may have a Tilz (a digital profile of that item) that is part of that property's CloudCast.
  • The homeowner's ComCloud can deliver the profile Tilz for any household item, object, plant, tree, etc. the homeowner owns to persons or entities requesting such information, for free or for a fee. ComCloud thereby enables Survey Egg owners to monetize their profiles. For example, an appliance store may wish to pay the user to view that user's household appliance profile; and then pay the user again to send ads, offers, or information as per the user's profile—if the user wishes to receive same, such as when its time to upgrade or replace an item. Or the lawn may need annual aerating. Or the fireplace needs cleaning every 10 years. Companies used to pay middlemen, such as search engines, fees to find potential customers; Survey Eggs and ComCloud may disintermediate such middlemen, and enable the users to get paid instead, while exerting greater control over advertising received.
  • Business owners can use Survey Eggs to broadcast their ComCloud from the property on which their business is located. The ComCloud can deliver ads, offers, information, profiles, and/or coupons to passersby who can receive same via various devices such as a mobile handset 503.
  • With a ComCloud, it's as if that user's house/property/business had its own Myspace page—a profile of that house/property/business. Included in that profile are a Tilz for every single item relevant to that property. For example, every appliance the user owns has its own separate Tilz; there is a Tilz for every contractor who worked on/in that property; a Tilz for every knife, fork, spoon, glass, plate, couch, article of clothing, book, etc. that resides in, or relates to, that property; a Tilz for the housekeeper, pool service company, company that trimmed the trees, etc.
  • Survey Egg ComClouds are of particular relevance in second and third world countries where some villages are not connected to the Internet, but instead rely on peer-to-peer 503 and/or intra-village data coverage.
  • ComCloud broadcasts (CloudCasts) can be geo-limited by the ComCloud management software, which can be controlled via devices such as personal computers or mobile handsets. That is to say, the user may wish to control the distance certain items are CloudCast. The user may wish certain ComCloud items to conceivably be available to the entire world, by various means, such as the Internet. But, for other items, the user may wish those items/profiles/ads/coupons/etc. to be CloudCast no further than 100 meters from the Survey Egg. For example, it's nearly 6 PM and a restaurant has a few empty tables. The restaurant may want to limit their CloudCast ads and coupons, to those parties 504 within a few miles, and thus those who can get there by 6 PM.
  • Having generally described operation of the systems and methods for location establishment and profile-based messaging, various embodiments will be described with respect to FIGS. 1-9.
  • Referring to the accompanying drawings wherein the same reference numerals refer to the same or similar elements:
  • FIG. 1 shows an architecture of an embodiment of an in-situ location sensing system in accordance with the Invention which is designated generally as system 10.
  • System 10, hereafter “Survey Eggs,” consists of the multiple embodiments of in-situ location sensing devices (ILSD) and/or fixed location sensing devices ((FLSD), in addition to a Website 160, mapping and blueprint software (application programming interfaces APIs) 165, server software 170 and 175 and a widget 190 (Webified mini software application) configured for operation with a variety of digital computing devices including mobile handsets. The widget 190 enables users to engage and manage a number of location-based services the Survey Eggs engender. The Website 160 (and/or widget 190) contains, in addition to survey related features and functions, social networking tools such as profiles, comment sharing, blogging, chat, message boards, media sharing, social mapping and tagging/geo-tagging. Finally, there are online and offline tools for broadcasting profiles 170 and 185 via means such as the Internet, and various non-Internet means such as Bluetooth (such means collectively referred to hereafter as “CloudCasting”).
  • In embodiments remotely-programmable Survey Eggs 100 contain a microprocessor 101, NAND chip flash storage capacity 101 and a Linux-based operating system or other operating system compatible with the Survey Eggs software 180. Various electronic interfaces including input/output IO ports, direct memory access (DMA) circuitry, etc. are not included in the schematic of FIG. 1 as such interfaces are well known to those skilled in the art. Survey Eggs 100 are configured with global positioning satellite (GPS) facilities and software for management thereof, including transmission of location information to local and remote sources. A module is configured to perform calculations pursuant to differential distance figuring, with particular regard to other Survey Eggs 100, as well as mobile and fixed objects such as GPS-equipped mobile handsets and cell site towers respectively.
  • Survey Eggs 100 embodiments sans GPS are provided, configured to be placed in key points of a structure, property, object or other thing, and to thereby triangulate (or otherwise fix) its location by utilizing at least three external location-established devices or other things, such that the location and/or physical makeup of the structure, property, object or other thing may be determined. A module is configured such that digital blueprints may be automatically generated and published based in part upon the prior determined data. A broadcast module is configured to transmit and/or receive messages/data of various types based upon a plurality of factors such as location and/or profile. Such an embodiment is hereafter referred to as “Survey Nuts.”
  • Survey Eggs server-side facilities 180 are provided. A profile serving and matching facility 170 is configured to transmit profiles to/from Survey Eggs 100 as well as other remote devices. The profile serving and matching facility 170 includes algorithms configured to filter and match a plurality of available ads/offers/information/et. al. (configured into data “tiles” or the homonym thereto, data “Tilz”) based upon metadata for each such ads/offers/information, against profiles of items a user has indicated a desire to receive (or not) ads/offer/information for. A database server 175 facilitates user profiles and preferences, as well as a rules facility by which certain actions must accord. A report creation and transmission module is configured to accept data from Survey Eggs 100 and remote sources, and therefrom produce and transmit ordered datasets such as boundary surveys and the legal descriptions thereof, to remote entities such as governing agencies. A module is configured for storage, reception, transmission and (static) broadcast 185 of messages and other data, and in particular those data configured into profiles (a module hereafter referred to as “ComCloud”). The ComCloud module includes profile creation, filtering, and matching facilities. In embodiments, one of more of the plurality of facilities/modules described in the present paragraph are configured for operation directly on/by the Survey Eggs 100.
  • Survey Eggs widget client-side facilities 190 are provided configured for operation on mobile handsets 190 and other devices. A report creation and transmission module is configured to accept data to/from Survey Eggs 100 and remote sources, and therefrom produce and transmit ordered datasets such as boundary surveys, and the legal descriptions thereof, to remote entities such as governing agencies. A ComCloud module is configured for operation by the Survey Eggs widget.
  • Users create new or update existing profiles by a plurality of means, including, for instance, scanning an ad in a newspaper for an item a user is interested in. The scan results in a query which returns a data/profile tile (Tilz), about the subject item, to the user's mobile handset 190. For example, if the user scanned an ad for an automatic driveway gate, and received the Tilz for same, the client-side Survey Eggs widget 190 queries the user as to whether or not the user would like to receive ads/offers/information pertaining to automatic driveway gates. The user's profile is updated presently by (the Survey Eggs client-side software on the user's mobile device 190, and/or) the Survey Eggs server-side facilities 180, which receive transmission of the query results via a plurality of communication modalities 185. The user's updated profile is returned therefrom to the user's Survey Eggs widget 190 and the Survey Eggs 100 for inclusion in the user's profile broadcast 185 (ComCloud). The ComCloud 185 can be configured for various broadcast distances from global to just a few feet. For example, the Survey Eggs 100 ComCloud 185 may be configured for use via Bluetooth, which has limited range. Bluetooth range may be sufficient however to reach contractors driving by a particular Survey Eggs 100-equipped property, who might otherwise be able to provision and install the user-desired automatic driveway gate (and effect the transaction pursuant thereto via ComCloud).
  • In embodiments, local passersby via Bluetooth (or other means) or remote users via the Internet (or other means) may broadcast their profiles in such a fashion that a Survey Eggs 100 ComCloud 185 can facilitate matches that may lead to novel interactions and transactions.
  • In embodiments, Survey Eggs software facilities may be configured as a Web-based application 160.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment of the compact, secure, waterproof, weatherproof device enclosure 201. For purposes of installation, maintenance, repair or other general physical interaction, the device enclosure may be opened to reveal several interface modalities. Users with clean, dry hands may wish to avail themselves of the touchscreen interface 202 to interact with the device. The user is presented with a menu driven command structure to initialize the unit, and set its various operating parameters. For example, the unit may operate as a standalone unit, or in conjunction with other Survey Eggs. If there are more than one Survey Egg on a given property each Survey Egg must be assigned a canonical order number, to facilitate commands that are serial in nature (as opposed to commands that all Survey Eggs may execute at once, in parallel).
  • For those instances, when the user interacting with the Survey Egg, may be wearing gloves, and/or may have wet or muddy hands, they may interact with the Survey Egg via a finger wheel menu selector 203.
  • In order to facilitate repair or other tasks, the faceplate 204 is removed, to reveal the sub-enclosure 205, which features another moisture seal gasket. The mechanical interface 208 to the faceplate 204, illustrates some of the various customizable feature attachment/interface facilities, that differ for various embodiments of the Invention. Such attachments may include various types of meteorologic, gas, and/or flow sensors (among other types of attachments).
  • Licensed Installation
  • FIG. 3 Survey Eggs can be installed by anyone, however only licensed surveyor-installed Survey Eggs have legal merit. Survey Eggs are generally installed by personnel such as State licensed survey engineers, and all Survey Eggs and spikes (“Eggposts”) 304 so installed, have an electronic (Tilz) and/or physical tag with the survey engineer's survey license number, and survey date. If installed by someone other than a licensed surveyor, they do not have legal merit vis a vis County/State/National Property Assessor's offices.
  • Survey Eggs can be installed below grade, at grade, or above grade using a spike 304 (made from materials such as composite plastics and/or metal) of varying sizes (including 10 centimeters to 10 meters, for medium/deep-water applications). The spike 304 can be driven into the ground to support the Survey Egg and keep it in place. The spike 304 may be fitted with a weatherproof and waterproof Survey Egg holder 201 on top, and a special lock requiring a special type key (serial numbered and made available only to licensed surveyors) or electronic code to open.
  • FIG. 4 In order to provide more accurate location information than may be available via GPS alone, a Survey Eggs installation by a licensed surveyor may proceed as follows: The surveyor locates the boundary points of a property using conventional survey techniques and instruments. However, instead of simply driving wooden stakes into the ground to mark, say, the corners of the subject property, the surveyor installs Survey Eggs at each corner 403, 404, 405, 406).
  • Survey Eggs can be networked 185, either via hardline or wirelessly. Survey Eggs typically utilize WiFi for connectivity, but are compatible with several other networking protocols (see Internet Service and Networking Protocols below). Survey Eggs can broadcast their position to the Survey Egg Website 160 where the Survey Egg software produces an online map of the property. This map can be combined or mashed-up with online mapping services.
  • Each Survey Egg is assigned its own unique identification number, which is also its IP address. This IP address is the location from which the Survey Egg data can be monitored.
  • A boundary survey for a person's property 402, for example, can be performed by a plurality of means, including starting from a known point in a city, such as City Hall, which is frequently marked by a survey monument. A survey monument is often a metal plaque affixed to the street or sidewalk. The survey team then moves from survey monument to survey monument, utilizing a combination of laser-based and GPS survey instruments (and possibly other traditional survey instrumentation). Then, depending upon the survey methodology employed, the survey team follows the legal description to locate the first point 403 on the subject property 402 boundary line. After establishing the first boundary point, each of the successive boundary points 404, 405, and 406 are established (again depending upon the survey methodology employed).
  • As each boundary point is established, the surveyor installs and initializes the Survey Egg, and assigns it a canonical sequence number. Initializing consists of turning the Survey Egg power on, whereupon the Survey Egg follows a pre-programmed sequence of instructions to start up the Survey Egg software, and then, in some embodiments, establish its position by interrogating various GPS satellites. The surveyor can then rely upon the GPS location established by the installed Survey Egg, or alternatively, the surveyor can establish the position of a given boundary point, without employing the Survey Egg GPS location information, and then program this surveyor-established location into the Survey Egg, via manual interaction with the Survey Egg control panel 204 or via other means such as the Survey Eggs website 160 or widget 190.
  • Once initialized Survey Eggs automatically calculate distance to all other Survey Eggs (which can be limited to just those Survey Eggs on the subject property, if desired). Vis a vis the successive sequence numbered Survey Eggs, the Survey Eggs calculate the distance of each of the boundary line distances, such as from 403 to 404, and then, optionally, compare this calculated figure to the parcel map distance or even the legal description distance (if available in machine-readable format).
  • Upon completion of the boundary point/line establishment and calculation process, the Survey Egg software 180 then is ready to file an electronic Record of Survey (ROS), with the appropriate government agency (or other interested/authorized party/entity). Some survey companies charge a thousand dollars or more just to file the ROS, costs which the use of Survey Eggs may reduce.
  • There may be cases where discrepancies arise between one survey and another, or between a given survey and, say, the town parcel map 401. If, for instance, a court or other authoritative body, rules that the boundary point locations need to be altered, this can be accomplished remotely via the Survey Eggs Website 160 or widget 190, without need to physically be at the site 402, or to physically move the installed Survey Eggs, since an offset can be programmed into the Survey Egg location data.
  • FIG. 5 Once installed, the Survey Eggs can perform a number of functions and services. The scope of these functions and services may be determined, limited or enhanced, by the type of Survey Egg connectivity the property owner opts for. The property owner may utilize communication modalities built in to Survey Eggs such as Bluetooth to generate a broadcast of profiles (or other information or digital content), hereafter “ComCloud.” Alternatively, if the property owner has WiFi coverage that reaches the Survey Eggs, the Survey Eggs may also, or alternatively, utilize the Internet to broadcast their ComCloud (hereafter “CloudCast”). Also a user might choose to pay a monthly fee to utilize connectivity supplied by a third party, such as a wireless carrier. Users don't have to pay any entity for any type of connectivity for Survey Eggs to perform a boundary locating and marking function. Survey Eggs can be installed, say underground, then located manually, by a plurality of means, such as passing a mobile handset over the approximate location of the Survey Eggs, and listening for a staccato beep which increases in frequency as a user gets closer to being right over a buried Survey Egg; and becomes a static tone, when atop a Survey Egg.
  • The uses for a Survey Egg powered ComCloud are manifold (see Summary of Invention above, and Applications and Use Cases below, for exemplifying examples). For instance, a user might wish to socially network with others via their ComCloud broadcast (CloudCast) by posting various pictures, status updates, etc. for selected passersby to view. Users could expand the range of possible viewers by utilizing the Survey Egg's Internet connection to CloudCast their profiles to any interested party. Survey Egg users can choose, for instance, to have a limited-range Bluetooth CloudCast, to interact with people walking by 501. Passersby 503, can view the Survey Egg CloudCast to look for items of interest manually, or if the passerby has their own ComCloud, profile matches can be performed automatically. Let's say the property owner has an old inflatable kiddie pool in the garage they'd by happy to get rid of. But its too much hassle for a $5 item such as this, to post on a traditional Internet commerce site. The property owner could instead add the profile (a digital tile of information about that object, hereafter “Tilz”) of the kiddie pool to their Survey Egg ComCloud, and CloudCast its availability to just those persons who live or pass nearby (via various means such as Bluetooth). If a neighbor has a need for a kiddie pool, this may be a great way to obtain one with minimum expenditure of time and money, and possibly create an opportunity to meet and interact with a neighbor. Social networking, interacting and transacting, literally from an ILSD (in-situ location sensing device), is unique to the present Invention.
  • Survey Egg CloudCasts can also interact with drivers 504 driving by 502 the subject property to accomplish things that would otherwise take the property owner some amount of time expenditure. For instance, if the property owner wanted a paver stone driveway to replace their existing asphalt driveway, they could create an RFP (request for proposals) Tilz, seeking bids by paver stone contractors. Such an RFP Tilz could be viewed (if the property owner wished) only by licensed contractors, and further by contractors who have installed paver stone driveways before, or meet certain customer rating levels. That is to say, Survey Eggs give time back to their owners, who might otherwise have to spend hours searching for paver stone driveway contractors. Instead, when a Survey Egg owner wants or needs something, they simply place a Tilz related to same, in their ComCloud, and the information sought, comes to them, automatically.
  • FIG. 6 Survey Eggs 602 can establish their location by a plurality of means. For instance, Survey Eggs can triangulate 604 (or otherwise establish) their location via other location-established devices such as WiFi towers 601 or cellular carrier cell site towers (especially those whose location coordinates may have been surveyor-established). Additionally, Survey Eggs can establish their location via triangulation (or other means) of other location-establishing devices 603, such as other Survey Eggs. Survey Eggs can also establish their location via (realtime or otherwise) location datasets available via the Internet (or other means).
  • FIG. 7 Survey Eggs 703 can also establish their location via triangulation of cell site towers or interrogation of GPS satellites 701. However, since GPS location accuracy is purposely limited by various government agencies, Survey Eggs can establish their location with even more precision than traditional GPS, by means of dynamic GPS (hereafter dGPS).
  • The U.S. government, has for military security reasons, limited GPS accuracy to about 20 meters (a recent improvement (authorized in the year 2000) from the prior accuracy of about 100 meters). 20 meter accuracy is nowhere near sufficient for property surveys which may require accuracy on the order of centimeters. Survey Eggs establish their location by a plurality of means, including triangulating their location against other Survey Eggs and surveyor-located fixed objects. This calculation is performed onboard the Survey Egg, but also may be performed utilizing the Survey Egg software 165 on the user's PC, via the widget 190 on the user's digital device, or via the Survey Egg Website 159 and 160. The Survey Egg Website archives this more-accurate-than-GPS-alone data, and can provide this information to other devices. This calculation can be performed at user-set intervals, so that Survey Eggs can (always) have the best location information available. The GPS location of all Survey Eggs and GPS-located objects gets more and more accurate, as GPS-located objects update, in realtime, their 20-meter accurate location, vis a vis more accurate surveyor-established location information. And location accuracy increases as the number of Survey Eggs installed increases (since Survey Eggs can share positional location information with other Survey Eggs). Location information is dynamically updated, hence dGPS.
  • Other factors also inform the need for a more accurate GPS location system. The universe is dynamic and changing in size and shape. Our solar system is moving through space, as well as changing size. The sun is moving at better than 200 kilometers per second. The earth wobbles on its axis. These facts are materially important, as GPS satellites establish their position in space by means of earth and sun sensors (which have their own host of limitations). Continental drift is inexorable. Additionally, the earth's crust is in constant motion. In earthquake prone areas, portions of land shift with respect to other portions of land. Thus distances should be recalculated. The earth's crust is dynamic, so any location-establishing system that is not dynamic is inherently inaccurate.
  • Accordingly, an improved GPS system is desired to address these inherent location-determining deficiencies. A network of location-sensing devices, that also locate themselves via geometric triangulation from surveyor location-established fixed objects (e.g. cell site towers), and from each other, produces a more accurate system, with what may be an order of magnitude (or more) better accuracy than the currently allowed GPS accuracy.
  • Unlike some GPS devices, Survey Eggs can also report their position back to GPS satellites 701 (which are generally not equipped to process such information). A dynamic-GPS “dPGS” system, such as the Survey Eggs network, is more accurate and grows more accurate as each Survey Egg is added. Survey Eggs can report their position information to each other, and continuously update and improve their position accuracy. And, Survey Eggs can dynamically update all subscribed dependencies: other Survey Eggs 703, online maps, assessor subdivision maps 401, GPS systems 701, et. al., as well as other devices 603, and/or other embodiments of Survey Eggs 603.
  • FIG. 8 Information gathered by the Survey Egg is viewable in a number of locations. Users can view the data display on the Survey Egg itself 202. Additionally, the data can be viewed remotely via the Survey Egg Website 160 or widget 190. Users might wish to attach various items to their Survey Egg(s), such as an anemometer or temperature or rainfall gauge. Other attachment examples are discussed below in more detail. Attaching various sensors to a plurality of Survey Eggs may result in a swarm of intelligent connected devices able to broadcast and share datasets, for purposes such as environmental analytics.
  • FIG. 9 shows an architecture of an embodiment of wherein Survey Eggs, in accordance with the Invention, have been installed at a commercial location, and which are transmitting the profile of said business; and which architecture is designated generally as system 900.
  • Yogurt Store 919, Pizza Place 920 and Dry Cleaner 921 have each installed one or more Survey Eggs (or other Invention embodiments). Survey Eggs broadcast the aforementioned businesses' profiles 916, 917, 918, via a plurality of means including WiFi, cellular carrier network, Bluetooth, and other communication modalities. These profiles might include (but not be limited to) items such as ads 913, offers, coupons 912, and other information 914 related to that business. Businesses could, for example, broadcast their actual realtime inventory levels 908 of each item they carry.
  • Rather than bombard each user 903 or entity 909 within reach of that business' broadcast, the businesses employ the Invention's profile matching facility 907, wherein the businesses profiles are matched against the profiles 905 of the user 902 or entities receiving the profile broadcast.
  • As per the present exemplifying architecture (FIG. 9), the user 902 happens to be broadcasting the user's profiles via Bluetooth via the user's mobile handset 901. According to the user's profile 905 the user is unwilling to receive yogurt coupons 912 or dry cleaning information 914; whereupon like items are rejected by the Invention's profile matching facility—the yogurt coupon is rejected 911, and thereby does not attempt to gain the user's attention or clutter up the user's profile; and similarly the dry cleaning information is rejected 915.
  • On the other hand, the user's profile 905 is amenable to pizza ads 913, and thus a match 922 is accorded by the Invention's profile matching facility 907. Thus that pizza ad 906 is transmitted to the user's profile 905. Depending upon the user's preference profile, the user might view the ad right away, or, for example, that pizza ad 906 might be inserted into a commercial break when the user 902 is watching television later that night.
  • Furthermore, the pizza ad can be presented in a plurality of digital formats, including Tilz (which are a transactable objects), and thus, for example, upon viewing the ad, the user 902 could choose to order a pizza, and pay for same via the user's digital device 901 (via said Tilz).
  • Other embodiments are envisioned, wherein entities other than businesses such as other people, government entities, objects, machines, and other entities, might utilize a version of system 900 (or other embodiments of the Invention) in order to interact and transact with various entities.
  • In many cases, however, some/all entities involved broadcast the profiles of their wants and needs 904, 908, including, for instance, the various products/services the entities utilize/offer, and the Invention thereby facilitates interaction and transactions by matching said profiles.
  • These and other objects and features of the present Invention may become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the description and practice of the Invention as set forth hereinafter.
  • Gotz Dotz
  • Gotz Dotz are an embodiment of Survey Eggs. Gotz Dotz also comprise a wireless service network (method) to store and transmit geo-based data. In embodiments, Gotz Dotz serve as replacement for Botts' dots on highways to divide lanes of traffic. Compact, secure, waterproof, reflective, location aware, intelligent path marking units, Gotz Dotz are rounded raised plastic, ceramic or polyester (or other materials) domes (or other shapes) that serve as road lane (pavement) markers. Gotz Dotz are primarily utilized in commercial, municipal, and federal applications. Gotz Dotz can also help establish locations of roads in countries where reliable digital maps don't exist. Once in place, Gotz Dotz can automatically create digital maps for the area traversed by that road, path, sidewalk or trail marked by Gotz Dotz.
  • Gotz Dotz can establish location information via GPS and other means such as triangulation. In embodiments, Gotz Dotz can monitor traffic flow/speed, and can provide warnings such as vehicles veering out of lanes (e.g. when users may be falling asleep at the wheel). Gotz Dotz can interact with a car's navigation system or other onboard digital devices, such as a user's mobile handset. Gotz Dotz can act as Web Drop data points: users traveling along a road for instance, can get and leave location-based information. Users frustrated by the daily heavy traffic at a particular intersection can leave a complaint for city officials, actually at that location via the Gotz Dotz. Users can simply speak their message to their mobile handset, which creates a query data tile (Tilz), which is sent to the Gotz Dotz at that location. Gotz Dotz store information about items related to that location/area including, for example: “Stoplights are currently not timed and should be corrected by the City by the end of March.” Government road maintenance organizations can leave information there, actually in those Gotz Dotz, that can be accessed via Bluetooth, WiFi, cellular radio, or other means. Furthermore, other motorists can leave comments and complaints as well as answer each other's questions, directly via the Gotz Dotz.
  • Gotz Dotz are the Survey Eggs embodiments for highways and can perform the same/similar functions as per the descriptions below. In embodiments radio frequency identification RFID is built-into Gotz Dotz. Gotz Dotz are powered by a plurality of means such as: low cost solar cells, heat of the pavement, impact energy of vehicles driving over them, radio waves, et. al. Each Gotz Dotz has its own identification ID number, which is also its IP address, and which is captured in an IP barcode. Gotz Dotz data handoff: transceive to/from available wired/wireless networks, sync to/from passing cars (Bluetooth, WiFi, RFID), communicate with emergency roadside phones (as a means of transmitting information back to central servers, or outside applications or other networks), et. al. Regarding syncing to passing cars, users can hand off profiles and Tilz as they pass by. Gotz Dotz then seek out profile matches and can return results further up the road. Users could sell their sofa, for instance, by driving down the road, and having Gotz Dotz match up that Sofa Sell profile with another user who has a Sofa Sought profile. Gotz Dotz are transactable nodes. Users don't have to make the dangerous walk down the highway to get to the nearest emergency roadside phone, as Gotz Dotz can act as mini relay stations enabling such (VOIP) phone calls to be made.
  • Survey Nuts
  • Survey Nuts are an embodiment of Survey Eggs. Survey Nuts are roughly the size of peanuts, although other sizes are also contemplated. They contain a smaller version of Survey Egg electronics with differing functionality and features. Survey Nuts automatically locate themselves and broadcast their position. They do not use satellite GPS to locate themselves, instead triangulating from three or more of the boundary Survey Eggs (or other objects which have location-established themselves) to establish their position. Survey Nuts location data can be sent via low power repeater to the designated central base-station Survey Egg.
  • Survey Nuts usually have to be within a 10 to 100 meter distance (Bluetooth range) of at least three Survey Eggs to triangulate the location of that Survey Nut. Survey Nuts optionally equipped with sonic pinging or radio telemetry can triangulate to Survey Eggs from distances greater than 100 meters. Alternatively, a Survey Nut can triangulate its location from three or more Survey Nuts which have already established their location via one of the means discussed above.
  • Survey Nuts are in-situ location establishing devices (or FLSDs). Survey Nuts consist of a Website, mapping and blueprint software (application programming interfaces APIs), server software, and a widget (Webified mini software application). The widget enables users to engage and manage a number of location-based services, that Survey Nuts engender. There are also online/offline tools for CloudCasting profiles, comments, blogging, message boards, media sharing, social mapping and tagging/geo-tagging. Each remotely programmable Survey/Nut contains a microprocessor, flash storage, and an operating system. Survey Nuts determine relative location.
  • Absolute Vs Relative Location
  • Survey Eggs are absolute. A single Survey Egg can establish its position without need for any other Survey Eggs or Survey Nuts.
  • Survey Nuts are relative. Survey Nuts establish their position relative to other Survey Nuts and/or other Survey Eggs and/or other objects which have had their locations established.
  • In embodiments, Survey Nuts are intended to be placed (during construction) in every corner and key point of structures such as buildings, bridges, dams, and facilities (such as airports, schools, etc.). Once in place, Survey Nuts can provide a three dimensional electronic blueprint 195 for the subject structure, via the Survey Egg client/server software or by uploading the resultant location data to third party architecture/drawing software programs.
  • Survey Nuts can be installed by anyone (homeowners, contractors building a house/sidewalk/pool, etc.)—i.e. they do not require a licensed surveyor, though their installation may be certified by a licensed architect and/or contractor (or other person/entity) for an additional imprimatur of credibility and accuracy.
  • Field Locatable
  • Survey Eggs are field locatable, via wireless mobile device, including non-GPS devices, using protocols such as Bluetooth, RFID, and WiFi. Users are not required to have Internet service. If users desire realtime monitoring, they can utilize connectivity from by wireless carriers, or WiFi at the home/office/property, or (tethering) via Bluetooth from mobile devices, or other means. Both Survey Eggs and Survey Nuts can be field-located by using a GPS-equipped mobile handset (or other devices). They can also be located by a non-GPS, Bluetooth-equipped wireless mobile handset which can transceive signals with the Survey Egg/Nut (without need for Internet access). The mobile handset user may hear a series of staccato beeps, which becomes a solid tone when the mobile handset is immediately above/below the Survey Egg/Nut. Thus surveyors and contractors and property owners, as they walk near the Survey Eggs (which may be buried in the ground), can locate the boundary points to the subject building, plot of land, road, bridge, mountaintop, etc. Other network protocols such as RFID and WiFi may also be used to field-locate Survey Eggs.
  • Internet Service
  • Survey Egg users are not required to have any ongoing Internet service contract. However if they desire real-time monitoring, Survey Eggs can utilize Internet connectivity from such sources as: Cellphone service providers or wireless carriers, WiFi at the home/office/property, and/or Free local/municipal WiFi service.
  • Providing the network for Survey Egg CloudCasts may result in the carrier receiving a cut of all the software, services, and transactions revenue therefrom. As customers drop their landlines in favor of wireless, Survey Eggs (in embodiments) become the Web Drops that connect to existing landlines, and become the wireless nodes to interface with the landline and/or broadband providers' ubiquitous WiFi service. Then those entities may participate in the software, services and transaction income on that network.
  • Networking Protocols
  • Survey Eggs feature networking capabilities: WLAN (wireless local area network such as WiFi), and/or WMAN (wireless MAN such as the recently published IEEE 802.16 spec) and/or WWAN (wireless wide area network such as GPRS). Survey Eggs/Nuts are Bluetooth and RFID compatible. Optional weatherproof external connectors include: a standard Ethernet adapter and a HomePlug 1.0 spec adapter (utilizing a power line to supply both power and Internet connectivity).
  • Solar Power
  • Survey Eggs contain a lithium-ion (or other type of) battery, which can be solar sustained 302.
  • Survey Egg options include:
    Solar cell panel on the skyfacing surface of the Survey Egg for those Survey Eggs to be located above ground.
    Remote solar panel (of various sizes, including 5″×5″) that attaches to the Survey Egg via weatherproof external connector, for those Survey Eggs located underground, or those above ground but in a shady spot. The solar panel option currently includes various wire choices up to 30 meters in length.
  • Solar Powered Extranet
  • For those users who choose to set up and broadcast their own extranet (sans any external Internet service), a separate solar powered battery option is available FIG. 3. This larger capacity, higher voltage battery almost fills the volume of an entire Survey Egg (in some embodiments) and is powered by one or more of the same optional solar cell grids as regular Survey Eggs.
  • The solar Survey Egg always draws its power from the solar cell and its separate rechargeable lithium-ion battery, until the voltage drops below an acceptable level, at which point the Survey Egg automatically switches to the primary lithium-ion battery. The Survey Egg runs on the primary battery until the solar powered battery is once again capable of delivering a minimum pre-set voltage, at which point the automatic switch re-engages the solar battery.
  • High Power Survey Eggs Vs Low Power Survey Eggs
  • High power Survey Eggs use GPS technology to directly triangulate from GPS satellites.
  • Low power Survey Eggs triangulate from local sources with known locations such as WiFi hotspots and cell phone towers.
  • Geo-Tag Databases
  • Most new WiFi hotspots and cell phone towers are now geo-tagged as to their coordinates or GPS location. Online databases of these locations are utilized by Survey Eggs for triangulation calculations (FIG. 6).
  • Data Broadcast
  • Survey Eggs produce a user-selectable set of broadcast data such as the Survey Egg ID number its coordinates/location, and the remaining battery charge. Other (related) information may also be uploaded and broadcast such as easements that are near this Survey Egg, building restrictions (such as sight line preservation), parcel or tax ID numbers, property owner contact info, installation survey company contact info, etc. (as well as other data types).
  • Femtocell
  • One or more Survey Eggs on a property can be programmed to work in conjunction with, or even contain, a pico- or femto-cell digital signal processor. (A femtocell is a miniature cellular base station often about the size of a home wireless router, and with a similar range) Though femtocells are being used to dramatically improve cellphone service (faster downloads, clearer calls and less drain on the battery) Survey Eggs can also take advantage of a femtocell a user has installed in their home/office/building/structure to provide continuous connection to the Internet and improve battery life. An option is available to locate a femtocell inside a Survey Egg. The resultant “Femto Egg” is generally placed inside the structure (rather than outside in the ground) and plugged via Ethernet cable directly into the user's broadband connection.
  • Radiation Shielding
  • All Survey Eggs and Nuts feature substantial radiation shielding. The sun routinely experiences cycles of sunspot activity. Solar Cycle 23, is experiencing peak activity that is expected to decay gradually over the next few years, before building again for the next solar cycle. There is concern that some of the most powerful solar storms in decades could arrive during the next solar cycle. A sunspot is an area of intense magnetic activity on the surface of the sun. During a solar storm, highly charged particles ejected from the sun may head toward Earth, where they can bring down power grids and disrupt communications.
  • Sensor Options
  • Survey Eggs optionally contain user-selectable sensors of various types to monitor such items as: humidity, temperature, radiation, and gases such as carbon dioxide, etc. (FIG. 8).
  • Alternate-Use Optional Attachments
  • Survey Eggs can also be connected to other optional attachments:
    Anti-gopher/mole underground signal generators (which produce an unpleasant noise/vibration which may drive away some unwanted rodents).
    Invisible pet fences (attach a Survey Nut to a pet's collar to limit or track the pet's whereabouts (display the location data on the user's mobile handset). Alternatively, Survey Eggs can provide the wireless signal to a collar worn around the pet's neck, which delivers a small shock if the pet tries to cross the property boundary line).
  • Egg Customization
  • Survey Eggs/Nuts can be customized and personalized by users via the use of skins. Skins are stickers/decals that can be applied to the Survey Egg/Nut that offer the user a plurality of colors, patterns, photos, logos, etc.
  • Corporations might pay users to display the company's logo—sponsored Eggs. Such fees might be utilized to reduce an Survey Egg/Nut monthly fees, if any.
  • Dimensional diagrams for skins are supplied on the Survey Eggs website, so that all users have to do is upload a graphical image to the website for cropping as per the dimensions of the Survey Eggs/Nuts diagrams. Users can also download the dimensional diagrams to a digital device and software of their choice to further customize their skins.
  • Users then print out the stickers/decals at their own printers or professional print shops.
  • ComCloud Customization
  • Users can also customize the ComCloud message broadcast by each Survey Egg.
  • Each Survey Egg has on-board storage for users to download text, images, audio or video files, or other items to. When passersby walk near the user's Survey Eggs with a mobile handset configured to receive such data, the passersby may receive the user's ComCloud broadcast while in range (503). The Survey Egg may also deliver a digital file to passersby's mobile handsets, if both the user and the passersby have selected those profile settings.
  • Examples of such extranet customization include the ability to offer “ringtones” for a property (a song clip played for passersby on their mobile handset), or the user's kids singing, photos of a property owner/family, and social networking-type profiles of the property owner Akin to a social network profile for a user's house, but in the real, offline, world. Users can limit which entities, others, devices and/or profiles are allowed to view various content.
  • And all types of ComCloud broadcasts can be accomplished with or without means such as the Internet or wireless carrier service, since ComCloud broadcasts may be effected via modalities such as Bluetooth.
  • Dashboard Control Panel
  • Users interact with their Survey Eggs/Nuts via a control panel, where the user can perform managerial functions such as:
  • Naming and/or numbering each Survey Egg/Nut.
    Numerically ordering each Survey Egg/Nut.
    Via a graphical connect-the-dots type tool, users can delineate which Eggs/Nuts should calculate distances from which other Eggs/Nuts. The result of this is an online map representing the user's Eggs/Nuts in a two or three dimensional map. This map can be mashed with various online maps.
  • Security
  • Among other security features, Survey Eggs are programmed to stop working if moved more than a pre-selected distance from their SET position, unless provided an override RESET code by a licensed survey engineer. The security shutdown distance can currently be set by users to be any distance from three centimeters to three meters. The SET FAULT signal is immediately broadcast to the Survey Eggs' owner if such a violation occurs.
  • Applications and Use Cases
  • To further clarify the above and other advantages and features of the present Invention, more particular descriptions of the Invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are, in some cases, illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings and descriptions depict only typical embodiments of the Invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The Invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail via the following applications and use cases.
  • Automatic Legal Descriptions of Properties
  • Survey Eggs in the corners or boundary points of a user's property not only inform the subdivision map but may also create an accurate legal description suitable for submission to, for instance, the County Assessor's Office. Each Survey Egg calculates the distance between itself, and all the other Survey Eggs on the property. It performs this task generally once per day (or any other user selectable interval, such as every second or once per year). Each of the Survey Egg coordinates is wirelessly transmitted via the Internet to the designated Website (or other location/device). Using the Survey Egg control panel the surveyor clicks on the Survey Eggs on the digital map in a sequential manner, assigning each Survey Egg an ordered number for that property (403, 404, 405, 406). The Survey Egg software then calculates each of the distances between the now sequentially numbered boundary points, and automatically produces a Metes and Bounds (or other type of) legal description of the property. For example, starting at the Northeast corner of the subject property (at Survey Egg #1), proceed 47.39 meters south (to Survey Egg #2), then turn West and head 124.69 meters . . . etc.
  • Cross corner distances are also calculated to ensure that in the case, say, of rectangular property plots, that all proposed boundary line angles are at 90 degrees.
  • Electronic ROS Filing
  • Survey Eggs can automatically, wirelessly file the Record of Survey (ROS) with the appropriate (governing) entities. An ROS can be filed electronically at County Assessor's Offices by means such as simply by sending a link to the online map displaying the surveyor-installed Survey Eggs. Assessor's Offices can, among other options, download the data set for the plot in question into their own electronic map software. This can reduce the substantial expense (in addition to the cost of the boundary survey) to property owners that surveyors charge for the filing of the ROS.
  • Detailed Landscape Surveys
  • Survey Eggs/Nuts/ and/or Gotz Dotz can be used to locate the edges of every road, sidewalk, and trail on the planet, as well as trees, shrubs, lawns, pools, ponds, et. al.
  • Fence Locating
  • Fence builders can simply pass their RFID, GPS or Bluetooth equipped mobile handset over the suspected plot corners, to easily, quickly, inexpensively and accurately locate boundary lines, along which to build the fence.
  • Government Territory Boundary Markers
  • Survey Eggs could be used to delineate, mark, and/or CloudCast the boundaries for government owned land: the boundary for every city (in the world), the boundary for every county (in the world), the boundary for every state (in the world), the boundary for every country (in the world), and the boundary for every National Park, State Park, City Park, National Forest, Bureau of Land Management land, etc. (in the world).
  • Survey Eggs can be located at every boundary direction inflection point, as well, for instance, as one Survey Egg every kilometer.
  • Parkland Marking
  • National, State, County and City Parks can mark their hiking and backpacking trails. Forest Service dirt roads can also be marked. Complex rock climbing areas can be marked: Buttermilk Boulders in Bishop, Calif. has over 11,000 boulder problems (climbs) in a few square miles area. Survey Eggs could precisely mark each problem and enable climbers to quickly navigate to desired boulders, and routes thereon.
  • Map Companies
  • Online map companies plus government map producers such as the U.S. Geological Survey all can subscribe to or offer to their customers select ComCloud data provided by the Survey Eggs in the field. This enables, for example, the satellite view from Google Maps to zoom in and show subdivision plot maps, and even display individual plot boundary demarcations.
  • Development Story Poles
  • Temporary Survey Eggs/EggPosts can be placed as “story poles” to show where new buildings, roads, sidewalks, etc. will be located, allowing easy and accurate locators which developers can use to lay out the proposed development. Additionally such electronic story poles can be utilized by neighbors to the development who may want to present challenges to the development. The resultant data (CloudCast) from the story poles allows the relevant development information to be shared electronically with all interested parties—such as the lawyers and/or surveyors of neighbors—without the considerable expense of such parties having to make their way to the property in person.
  • Reverse Local Advertising
  • Homeowners can broadcast reverse ads 504. For instance, if homeowners wanted to change their blacktop driveway to a paver stone driveway, they could put out a notice on their ComCloud that they are accepting bids for paver driveway installations. Contractors who are driving by could receive the reverse local ad on their mobile handset, stop, and get out of their truck to take the measurements needed to provide a bid—which can be submitted electronically via the homeowner's ComCloud.
  • Examples of reverse ads, or solicitations for bids, from a home/business ComCloud include:
  • Charge a contractor to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a paver stone driveway.
    Charge a painter to send the following solicitation directly to a user's home: “I see your house needs painting, especially where it is peeling on the western facade.” The painter can do this via the ComCloud without needing to know information such as the user's email address.
    Charge a realtor to send the message: “I have a buyer interested in your house.”
  • If a house needs a new roof, just as a person might change their social status to “single” after breaking up, the house status can be changed to “Needs new roof” to solicit bids for same. A Survey Egg ComCloud enables messaging similar to social status updates, but for a house/property/business.
  • These are but a few examples of a nearly limitless number of ways in which a Survey Eggs ComCloud can become a source of income for the user.
  • Property Inventory Merchandising
  • Users, via Survey Eggs, can sell access to property profiles or property owner profiles (which may be CloudCast) to various parties. For example, property owners can post Tilz of items they own to the property's Survey Egg ComCloud. Thereby companies can pay the user (first to view and review the profiles/Tilz, and then) to make offers to upgrade or replace an item (when it's time) as per the user's ad and coupon profiles. Examples might include: clothes, placemats, sheets, lightbulbs, et. al. which need replacing from time to time. Commercial properties or businesses can offer their items for sale without need for a conventional art Website.
  • Location-Based Advertising
  • Business owners can use Survey Eggs (located at the boundary corners of their commercial establishment) to broadcast their commerce cloud (ComCloud) which can deliver, for instance, ads and coupons to passersby via mobile handset. A yogurt shop, for example, could send out coupons for their daily special flavor in, say, a 100 meter radius from their facility.
  • Real-Time Weather Data
  • Some people have installed temperature, humidity, air pressure, and rainfall gauges that electronically transmit this information for their property, to a display unit in their home. With Survey Eggs this same information can be communicated (for free or for a fee) to weather bureaus, local new stations, and online map companies (and other entities) for compilation, analysis, and display in real-time (such as hyperlocal temperature maps for viniculturists).
  • Geologic Data
  • Survey Egg location data can be (provided for free or for a fee and) used by geology firms and university departments for research. Each Survey Egg calculates the distance between itself, and all the other Survey Eggs on the property. It performs this task generally once per day (or any other user selectable interval, such as every second). Cross corner distances are also calculated to ensure that in the case of rectangular (or other shaped) property plots, that intended angles are at 90 degrees. This data may change if the ground shifted.
  • Survey Egg software continuously records and logs all this data, which can be used to measure and monitor tectonic shifts in earthquake prone areas. And Survey Eggs equipped with various optional sensors can provide real-time, continuous temperature, soil, sound, etc. readings.
  • Environmental Sensor Networks (ESN)
  • Survey Eggs can form the backbone of (environment) sensor networks or sensor webs that monitor, map and assist in the management of environmental resources. Sensors can be embedded within or attached to the Survey Eggs that monitor the air, water and soil for chemicals and pollutants, and detect changes in temperature and pressure. Because Survey Eggs may already be in situ for survey related needs, they may save the cost of purpose-built environmental sensor networks. Survey Eggs can provide real-time data on a variety of phenomena that affect the environment and society, such as climate change, hurricanes, air and water pollution, and facilitate the advancement of geology, soil and land management, and agriculture. Survey Eggs can be used to track receding coastlines and to track icebergs in the Northwest Passage or elsewhere. Survey Eggs that mark the location of the pilings for piers and docks can also monitor items such as heavy-metal levels and mercury contamination in coastal areas. And Survey Eggs can aggregate and disseminate local data gathered by both mobile device users, as well as (other) sensor networks
  • Once Survey Eggs have created (or joined) a (worldwide wireless) sensor network, or communicate via ComCloud, this data can be automatically integrated with other data sources (such as public health records or historical climate data). Survey Eggs, in conjunction with online mapping services, then can turn the aggregated data into real-time advanced, informative graphical displays with analysis capabilities.
  • The environmental sensor network data can be used to help researchers understand how environments and people are linked, in order to monitor and protect natural resources, predict and adapt to environmental changes, and provide for sustainable development, as well as reduce the costs and impacts of natural disasters and provide an effective and intelligent response to such disasters.
  • Note Drop
  • For properties or locations that have Survey Eggs, a user can, for example, leave a digital “note” (a Tilz), in the Survey Egg ComCloud for that property, revealing the location of a little used side door to gain access to the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris for one of the user's friends—a note accessible only by those users or entities, the user stipulates.
  • Ad Hoc Transport
  • A user, for example, who needs to move just four furniture items to their friend's garage or a storage facility, might find it too much hassle to try to get bids for this tiny job. But if the user places a Tilz in their Survey Eggs ComCloud describing their needs, a truck 504 that happens to be driving past the homeowner's property with just enough room (or is dead heading) can, if the truck driver's profile is on the lookout for such jobs, choose to pick up this ad hoc business, enabled by the home's Survey Eggs CloudCast.
  • Widget Store
  • Survey Eggs can CloudCast to users appropriate widgets (software applications), in-situ, in-context, in the real world. Widgets that may be useful to a user who is, for example, standing in a particular location, are presented to the user (if the user's profile allows, and possibly only after the user gets paid). For instance, a user may be presented with a coupon widget when entering a store; or a digital travel guide when entering a small village in Europe. Survey Eggs may generate income for their owners, for instance, if the Survey Egg CloudCast charged a commission for widget sales.
  • Digital Content Store
  • Survey Eggs can CloudCast to users digital content of any kind, for any purpose, in-situ, and in-context, in the real world. A wide variety of digital content, such as videos: videos shot at or near that Survey Egg or a video guide to a travel monument (that has at least one Survey Egg). Music: such as songs inspired by this location or local historic music from that village. News stories: say from the local newspaper—sifted and presented as per the user's preference profile, giving the user the sports, or political, or historical information related to this site, that they desire. Or digital “notes” left for a user's friends at a particular location, stating for example: “We had to bail, the line was too long, meet us at Julie's flat.” In fact, any digital content.
  • “Electronic” Signs
  • Physical signs, with Survey Eggs beneath or attached to them, can CloudCast the latest, and most accurate, information. For example, the wooden sign at the Testarossa Winery reads: “Tasting Daily 11 AM-5 PM.” Yet users who venture there on the afternoon of December 24th, might be disappointed to find the tasting room closed. Before climbing the long winding driveway, users could have been informed at the bottom of the hill via Survey Eggs CloudCast, that Christmas Eve, is an exception to the stated hours of operation.
  • Trail Waypoints
  • For example, trail owners can utilize Survey Eggs/Nuts to locate trail junctions and waypoints along trails. Users, for instance, can utilize a GPS device to determine the trail junction location, and load it, via Bluetooth, into the Survey Egg/Nut buried there or attached to the trail sign (and the more users who download such data to the Survey Eggs/Nuts, the more accurate the data becomes, as, for instance, the mean of the those coordinates can be calculated). Then users who then hike or ski within Bluetooth range of the Survey Egg/Nut, get a hit noise on their mobile device (which may or may not be GPS-equipped).
  • Users can also store and pass asynchronous messages to one another via the Survey Egg/Nut, via the onboard storage and/or CloudCast.
  • Users can also request that another user who passes by “pick up the mail” (messages left on the Survey Egg/Nut) via their mobile device, and “deliver” it when that user is next in WiFi, or other networking protocol range—whether for free, or for a fee.
  • Air Traffic Control
  • Installing a Survey Egg on an airplane enables it and air traffic controllers to geo-locate planes using GPS satellites. A method with potentially superior accuracy and functionality, as compared to conventional art (World War II era) ground-based radar systems used by air traffic controllers. Survey Eggs can be utilized by (ground or air) avionics for live data telemetry/telematics.
  • Delivery Box Locations
  • Survey Eggs can be attached to (or beneath) every United States Post Office mailbox, as well as United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx mailboxes, with the ComCloud CloudCasting up-to-date pickup times.
  • Device Tracking
  • Survey Nuts can be built into (or attached onto) almost any object, and that object's location may be made trackable. Parents could clip a Survey Nut onto their child's backpack to help determine where their child is. Not a perfect solution, as Survey Nuts opportunistically utilize proximate geo-located WiFi nodes, nearby GPS mobile devices, and other means, but it is free (no monthly service fee).
  • Third Party Services
  • Survey Eggs and the Survey Egg ComCloud include application programming interfaces (APIs), that enable third parties to offer various services via Survey Eggs. For example, attaching a Survey Egg to a wine tank at a winery enables various third party services. Connecting brix meters (which read sugar content) and temperature meters for wine tanks, to the Survey Egg on the wine tank, enable a vinicultural management company or contracted winemaker, to remotely monitor fermentation progress (and thereby inform punch down schedules, etc.)—one of the single most time consuming aspects of wine making. Survey Eggs can control valve attachments to automate and coordinate the timing for pumping of fermenting red wine juice back over the grape skins, as well as water flow regulation, to heat or cool the tanks.
  • Attaching a pressure regulator to the Survey Egg enables remote operation and control of hydraulic-powered fermentors and hydraulic-powered presses. Attaching a mass spectrometer or gas sensor to the Survey Egg enables remote and realtime monitoring of carbon dioxide levels, and thus automate venting. Attaching a spectrophotometer to the Survey Egg enables vintners to remotely and actively measure the presence of various compounds in a wine. And since, Survey Eggs have a ComCloud, data could be shared, selectively, among various winemakers, if they wish to compare their analytics to industry-wide norms. A single spectrophotometer attached to a Survey Egg, is, via CloudCast, shareable among all tanks in the entire winery.
  • Motion Control
  • In one or more embodiments, particularly Survey Nuts, wherein an object's position in three dimensional space, within, say, a room or building, can be established, that object can be interacted with, transacted with, or otherwise controlled or engaged via methods such as waving one's hands in the air.
  • Survey Nuts enable novel types of intra-spatial movement control, as well as novel types of communicating, interacting, and transacting; for example, accomplishing any of the preceding, by movements of one's hand(s) in the air, in a room with Survey Nuts in the corners and edges of that room. And Survey Nuts, in combination with multi-axis magnetometers/accelerometers enable users to engage the real world via hand/arm/foot/etc. gestures and motions.
  • Survey Nuts' spatial location technology enables users to interact with their physical environment in entirely new ways. Survey Nuts enable users to engage the real world via gestures/motions: guide radio-controlled vehicles; “press” an elevator button with just a flick of a finger; roll up car windows by making a U-shaped motion with a finger, while walking away from the car; control a custom version of a fast food restaurant drive-through menu display; flick content to another person or device; change the TV channel; play various in-person virtual games, such as “Pong” by, for example, users swinging their mobile handsets (or other devices) through the air as if holding a tennis racquet; or play other video games; or engage virtual or overlay environments; utilize RFID fingernail stickers to type on any surface by just moving the user's fingers without need for a physical keyboard; control a virtual heads-up display; among other use cases. In embodiments Survey Nuts utilize radio frequency identification RFID to perform 3-axes geo-spatial location.
  • Smart Parking Meters
  • Parking meters become smart parking meters simply by attaching a Survey Egg or Survey Nut thereto. The Survey Egg/Nut ComCloud CloudCasts information to parking users on parking hours/costs. This can be accomplished by various means including sending Tilz to the parking users' mobile devices or automobiles. Parking users can pay via via CloudCast via a variety of means, including several proprietary methods (such as iDough, Pay by Widge, and Motran). Options include a SafePay method, whereby a user's credit/debit card is charged or bank account debited, for each block of time utilized, without worry about the meter running out of time, and the user possibly receiving a parking ticket (as is the case with coin-operated “dumb” parking meters).
  • The cost advantages for adding a low cost Survey Egg/Nut to existing parking meters, are tremendous. Cities are paying upwards of $5,000 each for so-called smart meters. For example, Survey Eggs can be installed at the corners of the parking lot, with less expensive Survey Nuts attached to each parking meter at each parking space. In fact, parking lots could even be made “smart” with just one Survey Egg station; that users walk to (or access via Bluetooth) after they park their car. Users then enter their parking space number and payment information. Parking police are wirelessly notified if any meters go “red” (run out of time); or again, users can SafePay, if they have an approved payment modality that can be charged for each unit of time parked.
  • Furthermore, adding a Survey Egg/Nut to a parking meter, turns that parking meter into a revenue generating station, for both cities and parking users.
  • Sponsored Parking
  • Parking users can actually receive revenue by agreeing to accept ads, sent via the Survey Egg ComCloud. Any such revenue can be split with the City. Parking users can receive ads in exchange for reduced or even free parking The City can also promote, via the Survey Egg ComCloud, upcoming town events. A hair salon, for example, that is near the parking lot can advertise an “empty-chair” 25% discount—true real-time advertising. And all ads are received (or rejected) as per each user's profile. Such advertising meets a real world need: an empty salon chair that will either generate revenue that hour or not. Those skilled in the art may appreciate a plurality of uses and income generating cases, utilizing a Survey Egg ComCloud.
  • Survey Eggs on City Buses/Trains
  • All bus stop poles can have Survey Eggs/Nuts attached thereto. Passenger's mobile devices, for example, can receive the bus schedule, and actual bus location on a realtime map (for those buses that have a Survey Egg, or other type of location establishing device, onboard).
  • Sponsored Riding
  • Cities, transportation districts, bus companies, et. al. can receive additional revenue from advertisements/coupons sent to passengers in exchange for reduced or free fares. Transportation vehicles simply attach a Survey Egg to the vehicle, and the Survey Egg ComCloud, can, for example, accept ads/coupons/offers/information from businesses near a passenger's stop. Blockbuster video store, for example, may incentivize the user to go two additional stops to a location near the Blockbuster store, by paying the extra 25 cents fare. True realtime advertising, as per users' profiles.
  • Web Drops
  • Wireless carrier networks are both relatively slow and lacking in sufficient bandwidth for the current infrastructure to support mobile devices as the next computing platform. One or more embodiments of the Invention are conceived as a response to this deficiency by incorporating or otherwise connecting various external interfaces, wherein wireless network traffic is offloaded onto, among others but not limited to, wireline, cable TV, and fiber optic networks. The external interfaces perform signal conditioning and data format conversions to enable communication through one or both of wired or wireless networks. Such wired interfaces may be compatible with Ethernet standards and TCP/IP. Wireless interfaces may be compatible with one or more of the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802 family of wireless data communications protocols. It should be understood that other data-network interfaces compatible with other communication standards and protocols may also be utilized.
  • Offsets
  • If, for some reason, the Survey Eggs cannot be placed at the desired boundary points, Survey Eggs can be programmed for the appropriate amount of distance offset, and thereby located where more physically practical. Also, if, for instance, the boundary points are later challenged (such as in a court of law), the authoritative government body can decree that a location offset be programmed into the Survey Eggs, rather than having to physically move and relocate the Survey Eggs.
  • Virtual Surveys
  • For example, for a case involving two adjoining neighbors, Neighbor #1 is seeking approval for an addition to the house, but discovers the lot line is such that Neighbor #1 will need to seek a variance. Furthermore, if the lot line were moved just two inches into Neighbor #2's lot, then no variance would be required. If Neighbor #1 and #2 reach an agreement as to a lot line adjustment, which is then made legally binding by various local processes, the Survey Eggs denoting the prior adjoining lot corners, do not need to be moved. The expense of having a surveyor physically survey the new lot lines can be saved, in favor of having the surveyor re-set the Survey Eggs for a 2″ offset—which can be accomplished remotely, electronically, via the surveyor's computing device. The Survey Eggs then automatically re-calculate the lot lines, and transmit the new (Record of Virtual Survey) subdivision and plot map information to the appropriate government agencies.
  • Travel Monument Guides
  • Travel monuments could also use Survey Eggs to broadcast information about that site, for example, as follows: a traveler visits a travel monument (say a particular castle ruin in England which features an information plaque with an IP-enabled barcode on it), the traveler then scans/marks it with their mobile handset barcode scanner, which sends a short data burst to see if there are Survey Eggs nearby for that travel monument, and if so, the Survey Eggs send a brief audio and visual history for that monument to the users mobile handset. This is possible even where there is no traditional cell phone coverage (on non cellphone devices), since the data stored on the Survey Eggs can be broadcast via means such as WiFi, RFID, Bluetooth, and other means).
  • The Survey Egg ComCloud broadcasts (CloudCasts) the profile of that monument. The profile might include items such as: self-guided tour (audio file), self-guided tour (video file), history of the monument (text file), donations to the entity responsible for that monument's upkeep and management (payment transaction modality).
  • Emergency/Medical Alert Reporting System
  • Particularly for the elderly or those who live alone, the Survey Egg ComCloud can be used to transmit an emergency signal to local 911 or other emergency services personnel. Users can wear a pendant around their neck which can communicate with the Survey Egg ComCloud (while the user is within 100 meters of the ComCloud), and thereby alert family, friends, neighbors, or first responder personnel to a problem.
  • Emergency Services
  • Survey Egg ComCloud (or RFID or Bluetooth) enables firefighters/ambulances/police to find house numbers even in darkness and smoke.
  • Emergency Broadcast Network
  • Because Survey Eggs have their own battery source they can be used (with or without ComCloud) to send/receive messages during natural disasters or other emergency situations. Since the power is out during many emergencies, outdated conventional art systems, such as those that broadcast via a user's cable TV system, may be rendered useless without power.
  • Government agencies, at the national level, and counties at the local level, are investing in systems that allow them to send/receive information during emergencies. Currently most of their programs only allow them to send, but not receive, information. The types of messages they want to send include where to evacuate to, and day-to-day updates on such topics as transportation and sources of food and fresh water.
  • In-Car Navigation Data
  • The Survey Egg ComCloud (via means such as WiFi, RFID or Bluetooth) can communicate with users driving by, especially (or even limited to) FedEx or other delivery company personnel, to more conveniently find, locate, and/or determine house numbers/addresses and even the homeowner's name (if the homeowner chooses to ComCloud broadcast it). Drivers can keep their eyes on the road instead of driving while trying to spot and find particular address numbers on buildings/houses.
  • Atmospheric Research
  • “Up-look” multi-spectral imaging via low-spectral resolution spectrometer attachments to Survey Eggs can measure atmospheric reflectance in the wavelength region responding to solar illumination. Such data has implications, for example, vis a vis the buildup of airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases.
  • Automated Water/Gas/Electric Meter Reading
  • Survey Eggs can automate the reading of water, gas, and electric (and other) meters at residential and commercial properties (504). Users with Survey Eggs at the boundary points of their property, who have also set up a ComCloud can wirelessly transmit the data from the water/gas/electric meters. The water/gas/electric meter can transmit the data to the user's ComCloud via several means including Bluetooth and/or WiFi. The user can set the ComCloud range to transmit the meter reading (which data can be encrypted) to a distance such that water/gas/electric company personnel can drive or walk by and wirelessly receive and record the meter reading from the street/sidewalk. The water/gas/electric personnel can use a mobile handset or other device to receive the (encrypted) readings. Alternatively, users can have the (encrypted) meter readings continuously sent wirelessly via means such as WiFi to the water/gas/electric company's servers; via the Internet if that home, the neighbors, or a nearby mobile device has connectivity—even asynchronously.
  • Prevent Skiers from Getting Lost
  • Each year skiers die when they accidentally head off piste, especially in storm conditions. Ski resorts can install Survey Eggs at all chairlifts and resort boundary inflection (direction change) points. Ski patrol officers can then send real-time run closure information. Mobile handset users can locate themselves relative to the Survey Eggs without need for a fee-based monthly GPS service.
  • GPS Coordinates for Online Map Addresses
  • Survey Eggs enable maps of businesses, homes, travel monuments/sites, etc. to include the GPS coordinates—which allows for an additional type of navigation, not generally included with today's online maps. Aerial view online maps can offer the option of displaying the GPS coordinates and/or boundary lines for specific sites. GPS coordinates for commercial or residential properties can also be included in telephone directory ads/listings for (automatic) downloading into the user's mobile handset or in-car navigation system to make finding the location easier.
  • Dig Safely
  • During any excavation project, the property owner often has to have a company such as Dig Safe come and provide an underground utility survey done. This is done to avoid digging up or damaging underground gas, sewer, water, power or telecommunications lines/pipes. Survey Eggs could be used to mark not only the location of each pipe, and each inflection point (change of direction) but the Survey Eggs could also broadcast metadata such as the type and age of the pipe, and depth of the pipe below grade (or its absolute altimeter reading). All this data is then be assembled into an online map by the Survey Egg software for viewing on any digital device such as a mobile handset or PC. This would also allow excavation crews to walk the area with a mobile handset and quickly determine the location of any section of pipe by a plurality of means, including using the Survey Egg widget to audio-locate any Survey Egg via a series of staccato beeps which increase in frequency and pitch until they reach a steady tone when the user is standing immediately above a Survey Egg. Such underground utilities need only be marked once, with Survey Eggs, rather than during every job.
  • Improved Underground Utility Serviceability
  • Another problem with underground utilities is that it is hard to determine exactly where a problem is located if, say, an underground pipe breaks. The use of Survey Eggs located at pipe inflection points (where one section of pipe changes direction relative to the preceding section) can address this problem. Inexpensive flow meters, for example, could be installed in the pipe at all Survey Egg locations. The flow meter data may be broadcast (CloudCast) as part of the Survey Egg metadata—enabling service crews to readily pinpoint a potential/actual trouble spot.
  • Furthermore, most utilities can use such Survey Eggs to receive continuous real-time flow rate telemetry data (in many cases for the first time ever) so as to better analyze capacity usage and make better determinations as to when to perform utility pipe upgrades.
  • Online 3D Map Mashups
  • Online maps could display underground, ground level, and above ground data:
  • Underground utilities, pipes, water/sewer/gas lines, etc.;
    Ground Level railroad lines, dirt roads, sidewalks, trails, etc.;
  • Above Ground utility poles/lines, airway rights, etc.
  • In addition, online maps can display digital blueprints 195 of structures mapped via Survey Nuts (in cases where the owner chooses to make such data public). Such data enables numerous location-based services not available today.
  • The above examples could also all be projected onto (mashed up with) existing online maps such as 50-State maps or voting district maps, etc.
  • In addition Survey Eggs/Nuts can provide reference points to cameras as they take still and video images. This enables a fly-through three dimensional image or video of any building, monument, et. al. to be created from the thousands of photos taken by tourists (and others).
  • Digital Blueprints
  • Digital blueprints 195 or “as-built” blueprints are, per the conventional art, accomplished via very expensive equipment and involve high level mathematics to resolve the stunningly large amounts of data needed create a blueprint of an object (such as a building) that already exists. Currently engineers and surveyors use laser scanners to bounce off numerous targets placed on the structure being blueprinted. The laser is then moved and the process is repeated at this new and slightly different angle. This is done hundreds of times to achieve an accurate as-built blueprint.
  • Archeologists also use this technique to map ruins such as those at Tikal, an ancient Mayan city in Guatemala.
  • Survey Eggs and Survey Nuts can accomplish this same result (digital blueprints) with much less time and with lower cost equipment. The surveyors simply place Survey Eggs at major boundary points, and Survey Nuts at all other minor junctions that need mapping, and the Survey Egg software automatically creates a three dimensional digital blueprint 195 of the structure.
  • And for structures, such as suburban homes, with complete digital blueprints, the architect could “tie” a “cornerstone” of the digital blueprint to a specific cornerstone Survey Egg. This would enable other neighbors or city planning commissions to view things such as potential site lines for proposed new construction projects.
  • Shipping Container Monitors
  • Conventional art container monitors cost upwards of $1000 per container. Survey Eggs are much more cost effective. In addition to the normal Survey Egg functions (such as real-time GPS location monitoring) sensors can be installed in the Survey Egg to monitor everything from the container door lock, humidity and temperature to radiation and gases such as carbon dioxide.
  • Shipping container Survey Egg monitors enable clients to micromanage their supply chains, reduce theft and inventories, and purchase less expensive insurance. The U.S. brings in approximately $1.9 trillion of manufactured goods each year, 60% via sea. Approximately 0.3% of those shipping containers are lost to theft: an annual loss of around $3 billion that can be reduced via use of Survey Eggs. Also increased inspections, especially for containers without such sensors, is very costly: $50,000/day for a medium sized container ship. And due to heightened terrorism concerns, an increasing number of governments are mandating solutions such as shipping container monitors.
  • GPE Service
  • Global Positioning Egg (GPE) service can be offered as an alternative to GPS (global positioning satellite) service. GPE is lower power and lower cost. Mobile handsets and cars can utilize a network comprised of Survey Eggs, Survey Nuts, and other means such as cell phone towers, WiFi hotspots, WiFi towers, and other towers to determine their location—in preference to (expensive) satellite GPS service.
  • Gotz Dotz
  • Gotz Dotz uses include, but are not limited to: Identify available parking spaces in parking garages or on a street (When a car parks between Gotz Dotz that circumscribe (or other layout arrangement relative to) a parking space the car's/user's ComCloud can indicate to the Gotz Dotz that the parking space is now taken); Telemetry data services (Gotz Dotz can download and transmit telematics data from the car's computer (such as speed, engine temperature, oil pressure, tire pressure, exhaust emissions, et. al.) in realtime. Data, as per user's profiles and wishes, can be sent to entities such as the car owners or the owner's mobile device, or the car manufacturer (which might pay users for such information), or law enforcement agencies (outstanding parking tickets or lapsed insurance), or the department of motor vehicles DMV (smog information, current registration), et. al.); Free GPS (People and cars moving along a Gotz Dotz path can determine their location); Traffic report network (Cars can automatically send anonymous driving speed information to Gotz Dotz, that can be aggregated to provide realtime traffic conditions information, and sell it to online map services and news organizations); Seasonal road marking (Gotz Dotz can mark the edges of seasonal ice roads (a solution superior to the conventional art sticks with flags). Gotz Dotz can also mark the edges of highways and roads with heavy snowfall); Automated vehicle guidance (As various aspects of vehicular control are enabled by ground sensors, Gotz Dotz can interact with the car's navigation system, cruise control, automatic breaking, steering, et. al. to guide the vehicle along the Gotz Dotz marked path); People movers inside airports; Baggage trucks/carts on airport tarmacs; Conveyor belts in factories. Sensor networks (Gotz Dotz can gather/relay information (ambient temperature, carbon dioxide levels, et. al.) in support of networks of devices which can measure and/or analyze, for instance, environmental parameters).
  • Gotz Dotz may replace survey monuments in places where other Survey Egg embodiments might be destroyed, such as on a street, curb, or sidewalk. Gotz Dotz, like Botts' Dots, are designed to withstand being run over by vehicles. Gotz Dotz may act as permanent and accurately re-locatable survey monuments. Gotz Dotz amass location data to automatically produce subdivision plot maps that can be more accurate than some conventional art subdivision maps, and are continuously available (via online map mashup) at minimal (relative) cost. Because Gotz Dotz may automatically create online/digital plot maps, they provide impetus for resolution of differing boundary surveys—as well as a basis for updating inaccurate legal descriptions of properties. Owners of telephone poles, street light posts, cell phone towers, et. al. are beginning to geo-tag their inventory, driving demand for fixed-location sensing devices such as Gotz Dotz.
  • Survey Nuts
  • Inside a home Survey Nuts may CloudCast all of a user's household items. If a guest likes the kitchen appliances, cabinets, or faucet, such information Tilz may be being CloudCast. The homeowner may get paid if/when an interested party who receives those Tilz, for example, later purchases that item from that company. All the contractors/manufacturers for every time in the house, may pay the homeowner to be on the homeowner's CloudCast. Information about items is CloudCast to guest's mobile devices. Such household items might include: paintings, artwork, silverware, couches, TVs, light fixtures, clothes, literally everything that user owns has a Tilz that is part of that property's CloudCast. The homeowner may get paid for the information regarding who designed, supplied and installed their kitchen.
  • The present Invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the Invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims in addition to all foregoing descriptions. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims and foregoing descriptions are to be embraced within their scope.
  • The Wireless Location-Establishing Device Provides a Platform for Interactive, Customized, User-Solicited Advertisements
  • A system, method, service and platform for providing interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited advertisements are disclosed; which, for example, reduce unwanted ads for users and marketing expenses for advertisers. Via a plurality of means, users create profiles of the objects they utilize in their life. The resultant profile(s) is then made available by the present Invention (“Ad Widge”) to entities such as those which manufacture or sell said objects. Those entities pay the user to view the user's ad profile, whereupon said entities make a determination whether or not to pay the user again to send ads, offers or other information, as per each user's preferences and profiles.
  • Up until now (2002), virtually all advertising/marketing has been based upon one thing: guesses. Guesses, for instance, about who might be interested in a company's message(s). Guesses about where, when, and how best to attempt to engage with customers and potential customers.
  • The present Invention (hereafter “Ad Widge”), is conceived as a response to the above-described deficiencies of the conventional art. With Ad Widge, advertising/marketing shifts from “guesses” to “facts.”
  • Users create profiles of everything in their life. And based upon the facts in those profiles, advertisers/marketers make informed decisions, fact-informed decisions, about getting their messages (and other data) to customers and potential customers. Ad Widge's technology enables users to receive just those ads they want, and get paid to do so.
  • These profiles indicate not only those items the user would like ads for, but also how, when and where. Ad Widge enables a number of innovative advertising modalities including: local advertising, location-based advertising, timely advertising, contextual ads, blended ads, interest category ads, behavioral ads, affinity ads, intramedia/intrastitial ads, self-aggregating group ads, realtime competitive ads, et. al.
  • Further, Ad Widge, disintermediates (some) middlemen in the advertising/marketing process; putting advertisers/marketers (often the manufacturer or retailer of a product) in direct one-to-one contact with customers and potential customers. Thus, monies that erstwhile went to middlemen which created profiles of users based upon guesses, can be re-directed to users, who, via Ad Widge, create and surface their fact-based profiles directly to advertising/marketing entities, and are thereby potentially paid to receive information, ads, offers, and other data.
  • Via a plurality of means, users are in control of the information they receive, including ads/offers/et. al. An Ad Widge profile is a shield against information overload.
  • The vast majority of advertising today is unsolicited and irrelevant to the recipient. Accordingly, an improved method of advertising is desirable. Interactive, customized, user-solicited advertisements—the present Invention—enables advertisers/marketers to better target interested ad recipients. And for recipients, the avalanche of junk mail, TV and radio ads, and online advertising is reduced to a focused stream of ads for just those products and services (and other things) recipients are interested in receiving more information about.
  • Both advertisers and advertising recipients are losers vis a vis conventional art advertising modalities. Advertisers waste billions of dollars each year sending ads to recipients with no interest in those ads. And ad recipients are so bombarded with junk mail and all other forms of non-targeted advertising that not only is a great deal of the recipient's time wasted, but also vast quantities of natural resources (such as trees) and energy (coal for electricity, oil for U.S. Postal Service junk mail delivery, etc.) are squandered producing and delivering ads that the recipients don't want.
  • Advertisers waste the better part of their advertising budget delivering ads to recipients who are not interested in seeing that ad at that time. For example, if a tire company pays $100,000 for a 30-second ad during a football game, the ad might be viewed by millions of people who don't currently need tires; or are members of the family (such as children) who do not purchase their own tires. Advertisers don't want to waste corporate resources sending ads to people who don't want/need them.
  • As more and more Web properties continue their assault on users' privacy, more and more users will want to take control of their ad profile. And the diminishing value of the tsunami of ads flashed at users each day, cries out for fewer, more relevant ads. Too many ads=too little impact. Quantity vs quality.
  • Conventional art advertising technology is outdated. The “spray and pray” method, wherein companies put their ads in front of thousands or millions of people, is an outdated and spectacularly inefficient method that hopes for maybe a 1% response rate. There's minimal value to the hundreds of different ad impressions per day the average person is exposed to. And what value is there to increase that number? As more online entities ramp up their advertising, users are about to be drowned in ads. But people need fewer ads, more relevant ads. And even with fewer ads, or ads targeted at smaller groups of users—even solo individuals—Ad Widge enables content owners to profitably make their content available. For example, Ad Widge changes the economics of re-runs (and other digital content). Not just relevant ads, but ads that people actually solicit, and ads for items the users indicated they are imminently purchasing in the next few days, are valuable, orders of magnitude more valuable, as compared to the “spray and pray” cost per thousand viewers. In some cases $5 or even $25 are paid for such ads to a single user, which changes the economics of reruns and enables content owners to monetize their vast libraries in a way that makes their library potentially worth an order of magnitude more than per the conventional art advertising modalities. Attaching an ad paying more than the (10 cent) cost to stream content to a user is profit to the content provider.
  • There are a plurality of ad platforms, trying to monetize digital content (and other things). However, only the Ad Widge ad platform pays the user (the ad recipient). Conventional art so-called “targeted advertising” assumes that all users are poised in the starting blocks every single second of the day, just waiting to hear a keyword, at which point they launch themselves into a store to purchase that keyword item. A completely absurd assumption that informs targeted advertising schemes, which pepper users with ads each time the user says a keyword, or types it in an email, or speaks it in a phone call, etc. Further, it leads to irrelevant ads that users don't want to receive.
  • Ad Widge provides an unique solution to the problem of unwanted advertising. Not only does Ad Widge save advertisers money, but also “saves” users money by paying them to receive ads. Furthermore, Ad Widge enables realtime competitive ads. Instead of spraying out ads and hoping a few people respond, advertising via Ad Widge, can be directed to users who are in the act of making a purchase (or have a profile indicating a potential for such a future purchase). Advertising via Ad Widge can now be tied and tracked according to a user's expressed interests and purchase history, automatically. Users simply go about their life and Ad Widge automatically builds their profile, then helps the user monetize their profile. With Ad Widge users are the ones in charge of and being paid for the users' profiles.
  • Ads Vs Coupons
  • In embodiments, ads are a means of providing consumers more information about the features and benefits of various competing products/services that recipients are deciding among for a future purchase; whereas coupons are a specific financial discount for items that recipients already regularly purchase or want to purchase (and thus don't necessarily contain product features/benefits information).
  • The Invention is enabled by the current and forthcoming digital technologies such as the Internet, the ever more present digital radio, and the proposed digital television broadcasting. It is also enabled by ever more capable mobile handsets—which are defined vis a vis the present Invention, as cell phone-like devices, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA) or other devices/embodiments other than a personal computer (PC) or laptop, that don't necessarily require a monthly contract from a wireless carrier to be a useful device. Those skilled in the art will appreciate, however, that a user may utilize other digital devices that are similar to or different from a mobile handset, featuring wireless carrier service or not; Such devices are consistent with the principles of the Invention, and are thusly encompassed herein by inference.
  • Though in embodiments Ad Widge can be used by anyone with a digital device (such as a computer) and, optionally, Internet access, it is aimed primarily at users of mobile handsets—and some users will exclusively utilize their mobile handset to engage and utilize Ad Widge. Of course, other users may simply utilize other computing devices (or even televisions or other things) that are different from mobile handsets.
  • Before the Internet and the digital media revolution, advertising was a one-way communication. For decades, advertisers simply foisted their ads via junk mail, newspaper ads, radio ads and TV ads on millions of recipients hoping for something like 1% of the recipients to actually be interested enough in the advertisement to take action to purchase that product or service being advertised.
  • Increasingly so, recipients are being bombarded not only by junk mail and radio/TV advertising, but also by online advertising. And the avalanche of ads is just about to skyrocket as social network advertising (on MySpace, etc.) and mobile handset advertising emerges. Recipients will hardly be able to go for more than a few minutes of their day without being assaulted by unwanted and irrelevant ads. Additionally, users are becoming increasingly concerned about their privacy, as some of a user's online actions are resulting in so-called targeted ads. And conventional art “targeted advertising” is evermore intrusive.
  • The conventional art Web advertising model has many flaws, and one of those flaws is just how many entities (middlemen) there are between the Website and the user. Ad placement. Websites hire outside companies to place ads on their sites and choose the ads that will make the most money. Ad buyers. Ad placement companies contact ad networks (that buy the ads) and technology companies that help advertisers bid for them. Ad targeting companies. The ad buyers reach out to other companies to track or measure their ads or for access to ad-targeting data.
  • All these companies can potentially collect data about users by installing cookies on a computer without the Website knowing. Thus some Websites are upset that others are profiting by selling data about the site's users for ad-targeting purposes. And of course, the users, as per the conventional art, are getting paid nothing, despite the fact that it is the users' profiles that all the others in this value chain are making money off of. Accordingly it's desirable for users to take control of, and profit from, their own profiles. And with Ad Widge, they do just that.
  • With Ad Widge (in embodiments), Websites interact directly with the user's profile broadcast or “ComCloud” which includes a user's ad profile. Thereby companies can see whether a user wants an ad from that company without the scrum of middlemen making expensive guesses about a user's preferences. Instead the user tells the company directly. Ad Widge's technology enables users to receive just those ads they want, and users get paid to do so.
  • Unfortunately other advertisers continue to deliver ads as if the Internet and digital revolution has not taken place. Some offline advertisers use information about ad recipients gathered from entry forms for contests and warranty postcards. Direct marketing companies create numerous mailing lists based on these keywords or whether someone bought from a particular catalog before. Then for the next 5-10 years users received junk mail (and other forms of ads) based upon this incomplete, out of date, and often inaccurate profile.
  • Feedback about the relevance/usefulness of the TV ads or junk mail was not practical—but it is today. Prior to the Internet there wasn't a cost effective way for people to build their own ad profile and communicate it directly to marketers (or today's search engines seeking to serve up ads). Yet most conventional art search engines ignore this fact, and continue to bombard users with ads based upon 50 year old marketing techniques.
  • The Internet, mobile handsets, digital radio, and the forthcoming digital television enable advertisers to inexpensively target individual recipients via simple, practical means. It would be preferable for users to give feedback about ad relevancy. It would be preferable for users to create their own profiles, either explicitly (by filling out profile checklists or other means) or implicitly (by means such as barcode scanning or RFID interrogation of the objects users utilize in their life—profiles which can be created while online or offline). Ads can thereby be tied to a user's expressed interests and purchase history, automatically.
  • It would be much better, for example, if advertisers had a list of people who actively indicated an interest in receiving, say, tire ads. Advertisers could target that much smaller subset of people who are interested in receiving tire ads, and not annoy potential future customers who don't want to receive tire ads right now. Instead of advertisers bombarding millions of recipients with millions of ads (a shotgun approach), recipients can, via the Invention, be in charge of the advertising they receive by requesting just those ads they are interested in (a rifle approach). Various technologies have now evolved to the point where it is simple and practical for advertising, for the first time, to become a two-way ongoing communication between advertiser and recipient.
  • Ad Widge is interactive, customized, user-solicited advertisements. When users solicit ads/information, ads can shift their focus from the marketing-driven hype of the conventional art, to becoming more effective information delivery vehicles, for users who are actively seeking information vis a vis a purchase decision (or other reason).
  • Interactive, customized, user-solicited advertisements enable advertisers to better target interested ad recipients. Instead of users being bombarded with random ads, users can, for instance, scan the barcodes/RFID of the items they use in their everyday life to automatically build a profile of items they could really use ads for.
  • As used herein in connection with the ads associated with the plurality of embodiments of the Invention, the following terms are defined as:
  • Interactive: users solicit and receive additional information on the item in real-time, as well as rate the relevance/usefulness of that ad to that user.
    Customized: ads appear in a format according to the user's preferences/profiles, and can offer different information and ad appearances to different users.
    User-solicited: users surface profiles of items for which ads may be desired, to various ad-issuing entities, and thereby inform ads they receive.
    Advertisements: advertisements, offers, information and/or other forms of data or content are herein encompassed by the terms “advertisements” or “ads.”
  • Reference herein to the word “advertisers” shall be understood to encompass advertising, marketing, and/or related entities.
  • The present Invention is described in one or more embodiments in the following description with references to the Figures. While the Invention is described in terms of the primary modes for achieving the Invention's objectives, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that it is intended to cover alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the Invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents as supported by the disclosures and drawings herein.
  • A primary purpose of the system, method, service and platform for providing interactive, customized, user-solicited advertising described herein is to reduce inefficiency vis a vis advertising and marketing. The disclosed system, method, service and platform also enable advertising recipients to exert control over and manage the information that is marketed or otherwise sent thereto.
  • Although various embodiments of the Invention extend to any system that operates in accordance with the principles described herein, one embodiment is described in the context of a Website, server software and widget (Webified mini-software application) that is collectively referred to herein as “Ad Widge.”
  • According to this embodiment of Ad Widge, the Website, server software and widget enable users to create lists/profiles of things they'd like to receive ads for. Users indicate via a preference profile (Web Pref) the way they'd like their ads presented (e.g. text-based details, or visually-oriented, on their mobile handset or in the postal mail, etc.) The checkmark list (or profile), among other embodiments, can be created manually or by using their mobile handset to scan barcodes (Net Dotz) of products as they use them, or scan the barcodes of items they come across in stores, on Websites, in TV ads, or other places. Product/service vendors then send users ads according to user ad profiles. In addition users may engage in social/business networking with other users via profiles, blogs, chat rooms, and message boards.
  • In embodiments Ad Widge is a software widget that resides on various digital devices (particularly mobile handsets), and enables stores, merchants, service providers, etc. to send ads to a user's digital device, based upon the desired-ad profile set up by the user. Via a plurality of means, including the Ad Widge Website and/or directly on the users' digital device via the Invention's widget (downloadable Webified mini software application), users create a profile of the advertising they would like to receive. Advertisers can, if the user's profile allows, view the profile of items for which the user would like to receive ads. Advertisers then deliver the ads to the users (customized) as per the user's ad profile.
  • This profile indicates not only those items the user would like to receive ads for (e.g. tennis gear, car tires, organic breakfast cereals, etc.) but also how, when, and where the user would like to receive the information. For example a text message on the user's mobile handset, or a 3 minute detailed ad on the user's TV between 6 and 8 PM, or a brochure mailed to the user's home, etc.
  • Via their Ad Widge profile users may also elect to allow ads from competitors of products in their Ad Profile—competitors pay the user for the right to try to entice them to switch products (in embodiments via modalities such as realtime bidding). After all it is the users time and money that is sought: The user's time, to review the info/ads/offers/etc.; and ultimately it is the user's money that is sought by the advertiser/marketer (often to purchase the advertiser's/marketer's product/service).
  • Advertisers/marketers already pay, to get their ads/ads/information/et. al. to users—they pay middlemen such as search engines, Internet tracking companies, and/or market research firms, etc. With Ad Widge, users and potential users make their interest in more information about a product known via their profile broadcast, without need for middlemen to guess which users might be interested in an advertiser's ads/offers/information/et. al. Thus advertisers can save those monies paid to get their messaging to users who weren't interested in receiving it, and further redirect monies that were paid to middlemen to guess which users want which ads/offers/information/et. al.; instead, potentially paying fees to users directly, in exchange for the value the user provided in surfacing their profile.
  • In those instances where payments are non-zero, users can further control the amount of ads/offers/information/et. al. they receive, by setting a minimum fee to receive, read and review the ads/offers/information/et. al. That is to say, the senders of such material must pay the user an amount equal to or exceeding the user's minimum fee to even send the user such material.
  • FIG. 14 illustrates one of the Invention's most important principles: profiles=currency. Ad Widge simplifies and automates the process whereby users create, manage and monetize their profiles. And these profiles have value. There are many companies, for instance, which would pay, literally, to view a user's profiles 1302.
  • Consider a case where all users create and broadcast all their profiles 1302 to all the appropriate entities at all times. Then, for example, the local movie theater could simply view the movie profiles 1305 of all movie goers in say a 20 mile radius of the movie theater, when making decisions such as which movies to acquire the rights to show in their theater. Such profile-based, fact-based decision making is far superior to the so-called analytics programs which harvest vast amounts of information, and apply complex algorithms, in the hopes of teasing out a few valuable (accurate) nuggets of information. And ad-sending entities pay a great deal of money for such information, weak though it may be, gleaned via such means.
  • That's why user's fact-based profiles are so valuable to so many entities. In practice, for example, a user reading the Sunday paper, and scanning an ad for a movie they'd like to see may get paid 1022, via Ad Widge, almost instantaneously by entities 1107 such as those that can provide the movie to the user 1108-1113 and ads/offers/information/et. al. related thereto. Scan the ad, and shortly thereafter, the user gets paid. Perhaps only a few pennies (or even fractions thereof) in some embodiments, but the tectonic shift in the advertising landscape may be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
  • Users create a profile of ads they are willing to receive, primarily through barcode/RFID scanning of products they utilize (as well as by other means). Alternatively users can indicate they are willing to let any entity send an ad-on any subject—if the sender pays the user (a minimum price set by the user). Each user can set their own prices to receive ads. Users also decide if they want to get paid by advertisers or market research firms (or other entities) to view the user's Ad Widge profile. Cumulative totals and/or frequency of various items purchased is valuable information that the user's profile contains. And beyond just frequency information, there is specific purchase information. For example, a user's profile might indicate a user purchased grated Parmesan cheese 18 times in the past year. But beyond that is much more granular information such as: What sizes of bags (8 ounce or jumbo 32 ounce)? Which brands? Re-sealable pouches or vacuum packed bags? Which stores were they purchased at? What payment modalities were utilized? et. al. The user gets paid by market research companies and manufacturers (and other entities) to view the user's Ad Widge profile which contains such valuable detailed information.
  • The Invention's interests are aligned with users. Ad Widge only gets paid, when users get paid 1403, 1404. Unlike traditional companies, such as leading search companies, which in many cases get paid, even when neither party to a transaction (buyer and seller) are happy with the value received. Traditional middlemen, such as leading search companies, add to the cost of goods (collecting, say, $30 on “refrigerator” searches, during the 10 years a user owns a fridge, happens to do searches on fridges, but isn't at the time in the market for a refrigerator). Ultimately, search companies drives up users' costs twice: 1) the cost of goods that the user eventually pays for is $30 higher; and 2) privacy costs, as entities such as leading search companies spy on users, to obtain the data used as fodder for their algorithmic guesses as to what a user might actually be in the market for.
  • An unique advantage of Ad Widge is that ads/offers/information/et. al. sent to users are based upon the best, most accurate and most comprehensive profiles available—those maintained by the users themselves. Any profile created by a third party is inferior to a user-created and managed profile; because, ipso facto, the only witness, for example, to every single movie a user consumes, by any and all modalities, is the user himself. If a user's movie profile is maintained by a third party such as the user's television service provider, the television service provider only bears witness to those movies the user consumes via the television service provider. Therefore, anytime the user consumes a movie, not via the user's television service provider, the television service provider's movie profile for that user becomes a bit less accurate, a bit less comprehensive and therefore a bit less valuable.
  • The same is true for other third parties which base their advertising systems upon profiles that third parties create of users; such third party profiles are less accurate, less comprehensive and less valuable, than profiles created by users themselves. This is a crucial point: all other forms of advertising prior to the present Invention, rely in some form or another on third party profiles of users. Thus all prior forms of advertising are inferior to Ad Widge's system and method wherein users create, and manage, and monetize their profiles.
  • Therefore in preference to flooding recipients with a plethora of ads, which are often of interest to only a tiny fraction of recipients, users create profiles of everything that matters to them. Said profiles are selectively, as per users' preferences, surfaced to ad-sending entities by Ad Widge. Ad-sending entities (may) pay the user to review the relevant profiles, and thereby determine if they wish to send ads/offers/information/et. al. to the user, and if so, ad-sending entities (may) pay the user again for the user's time to review same.
  • Ad-sending entities can, likewise, create profiles of their own via Ad Widge (or otherwise). For instance, their profile might be of each of the products they manufacture, stores that retail those products, and entities that perform repairs, technical support and/or related services for said products. Once these profiles are created, ad-sending entities can engage the Invention service which automatically matches their product profiles with those users seeking more information, possibly including ads, about that same, or similar, product.
  • Once a profile match has been effected, ad-sending entities then review, either manually with live personnel, or via a computer-based system which might employ various algorithmic facilities, a user's preference profile which includes preferences as to how, when and where a user would like to receive any ads/offers/information/et. al. and a fee schedule detailing the minimum prices (which might be zero) a user is willing to accept, to receive said ads/offers/information/et. al.
  • If the ad-sending entity determines it is advantageous to proceed, ads/offers/information/et. al. are delivered by the company itself, third parties, or via Ad Widge.
  • In embodiments, Ad Widge ads are delivered via Tilz (data tiles), which are transactable objects, and therefore enable users to purchase directly from the ads, even offline ads. For offline ads, users scan the (Net Dotz Internet protocol IP) barcodes, which, in embodiments, results in a Tilz being downloaded to the user's mobile device. The Tilz is a transactable object which enables the user to make purchases therefrom. The user's Ad Widge profile includes user-selectable options, such as the ability for users to choose to allow ads from competing products. For example, if a user utilizes Tide detergent, then the user has the Tide Tilz in their Ad Widge profile. If they allow ads from competing products, such as in this case Cheer detergent, then Cheer detergent is allowed to pay the user to send ads. Competitors pay the user for the right to entice them to switch products.
  • Ad Widge is simple to use for product and service providers. In embodiments, they just post all forms and variations of their advertising, and Ad Widge pulls the appropriate Tilz to each user. So for instance, Ad Widge can facilitate the placement or population of the ads (Tilz) the user sees when watching TV, or in their (digital) newspaper or magazine (or other).
  • The Invention employs and incorporates many unique technologies, such as the ability to purchase a product/item directly from an ad—even offline ads—and facilitate realtime acutions for ads/offers/information/etc. regarding competitive products while the user is in the act of shopping (such as at a bricks and mortar store or while shopping online), as per the detailed descriptions below.
  • Having generally described operation of the systems and methods for profile based advertising, various embodiments will be described with respect to FIGS. 10-19. Referring to the accompanying drawings wherein the same reference numerals refer to the same or similar elements:
  • FIG. 10 shows an exemplifying architecture of an embodiment of an interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited advertisements system, method, service, and platform in accordance with the Invention which is designated generally as system 1000.
  • System 1000, hereafter “Ad Widge,” represents an embodiment of the system, method, service and platform by which a user creates profiles of things, which in turn inform the advertising, offers, information and other data the user receives regarding same. The nucleus of the Ad Widge platform centers around client and server software 1014, but which more generally consists of a plurality of computer applications, devices, components, facilities, and systems, as well as a plurality of data facilities, including various data sources and data acquisition facilities. The foregoing may be centrally located or geographically dispersed, may be locally and/or remotely interconnected, and may consist of distinct components or be integrated into combined systems. In the illustrated embodiment, the Ad Widge platform 1000 architecture facilitates the processing of user-initiated queries entered into a query entry system functioning in conjunction, for example, with a barcode reading facility 1003 on the user's 1001 mobile device 1002. The mobile device may process the results of this query locally via client software, or transmit the results of this query to a remote server software system 1014 for further processing and/or routing to data sources and/or processing facilities, such as one or more servers, such as HTTP servers or other servers that are suitable for handling data that are transmitted over computer networks.
  • In embodiments, a plurality of profile acquisition facilities are available including barcode scanning facility 1003 (which may include a laser-based barcode scanner or other barcode scanning means), RFID interrogator facility 1004, network or Internet-based facilities 1005, peer-to-peer facilities 1006, among other profile acquisition modalities 1007. Profiles consist of tiles (or other units) of data about things, hereafter “tiles” or its homonym “Tilz.” The user 1001 acquires a Tilz about something, such as a product (it is understood that the Invention applies not just to products, but also to people, animate and inanimate objects, ideas, et. al.), by one or more of the aforementioned facilities/modalities. Via a vis scanning the barcode 1003 of the product or interrogating the RFID 1004 tag of a product, a Tilz may be returned directly, or indirectly via means wherein the query returns the Internet Protocol (IP) address where more information, the Tilz, may be found for that product. (Other Invention embodiments not involving barcode/RFID facilities are conceived wherein the same or similar data gathering and presentation is accomplished by more conventional vehicles such as Websites or other means.) Users may also acquire Tilz via network or inter-network (Internet) 1005 means, such as pointing a browser to the Webpage wherefrom Tilz for that product may be downloaded or otherwise acquired. Additionally, users may also acquire Tilz for the product via peer-to-peer 1006 means, such as via Bluetooth from, for example, another user who already has the desired Tilz for that product, say on their mobile device. Other peer-to-peer embodiments such as, but not limited to, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine interactions, facilitated by any number of communication modalities, may be utilized to acquire a Tilz about a particular product. Other modalities 1007 are contemplated, consistent with the principles of the Invention. And further, other embodiments not involving Tilz are conceived wherein the same or similar data tracking and presentation is accomplished by more conventional vehicles such as Websites (or other means).
  • Once a user has acquired 1002 one or more Tilz about an object, the resultant Tilz, which is the profile of that object, is presented to the Invention's client and/or server software, for sorting into profiles 1008, which consist of logical groups and/or subgroups of one or more Tilz. FIG. 10 illustrates several sample user profiles including the user's movie profile 1009, wine profile 1010, travel profile 1011, groceries profile 1012, and other profiles 1013.
  • A user's profiles 1008, are then presented to the Ad Widge client/server software 1014 which in embodiments may include profile matching algorithm facilities 1015, user profile database/storage facilities 1016, ad profile creation facilities 1017, ad profile management facilities 1018, ad serving/provisioning facilities 1019, ad storage facilities 1020, transaction facilities 1021, payment facilities 1022, security facilities 1023, internal rules facilities 1024, external rules facilities 1025, analytics facilities 1026 and/or other facilities. One or more of the foregoing facilities then processes the incoming/active profile, by a variety of means not limited to extracting keywords and metadata from the constituent Tilz containing that object's profile.
  • For each profile 1008 submitted to Ad Widge, the user makes selections (or chooses to accept automatic defaults or system 1000 generated recommendations) regarding what types of data the user would like to receive, or not receive, vis a vis that profile. Granularity of data control extends to the individual Tilz within a profile. Additional choices regarding data reception control include, but are not limited to how, when and where users receive information about the product. (Incoming information about a product is hereinafter assumed to be received via data tiles or Tilz.) The types of data a user may wish to receive regarding a product include but are not limited to ads, offers, information, or other data/content.
  • For example, a user who just bought 50 items at a grocery store may scan the barcode at the bottom of the user's receipt, and thereby automatically receive a Tilz for each and every item they purchased. These grocery item Tilz may then be sorted into the user's groceries profile 1012. If the user only eats Wheaties cereal, the user may elect to block, REJECT, any incoming cereal ads (which might annoy the user, who only purchases and eats Wheaties). However, a user who is a buyer of Minute Maid orange juice, and is open to receiving orange juice information may therefore set their Ad Widge preference profile regarding orange juice ads to ACCEPT.
  • Users may fine tune, set the granularity of, or otherwise adjust Accept/Reject criteria via the internal rules facility 1024 or other facilities. Internal rules 1024 (such as those set by the user) and external rules 1025 (such as those set by wireless carriers, and/or other third parties) are applied to user's profiles and affect various aspects of ad delivery and presentation. Examples of rules that can be set manually (by the user) or automatically (by Ad Widge's algorithm facilities 1015) include: 1) How, when, where to receive ads (for instance certain types of ads should be delivered to a user's TV from 7-9 PM on weeknights, other types of ads are to be delivered via car radio while the user is driving home from work; and still other ads are to be delivered to the user's handset at any time); and 2) Ad reminders: 36 months from now start tire ads. Ad Widge can log the date the user purchased/installed new tires, and, if the user wishes, blocks tire ads until the user is likely to be in the market again for tires. Conventional targeted advertising fails miserably in this regard: if a user purchases new tires today, then that user doesn't need to see tire ads for, say, 3 years or 36,000 miles. And though the user isn't in the market for tires, that user may in fact use the word “tires” in the meantime, say in an email. Yet a conventional “targeted” advertising approach would likely serve that user tire-related ads (wasting the user's time, and the advertiser's money) during those 3 years.
  • Once one or more profiles has been processed, Ad Widge 1014 makes one or more profiles available to select entities 1028 via a user profile broadcast 1027, hereafter “ComCloud” aka “commerce communications cloud” (or other means). A user's ComCloud may be broadcast by a plurality of modalities including Bluetooth, WiFi, wireless carrier network, Internet, infrared (IrDA), and/or other available means. For example, a user walking downtown along the sidewalk, may choose to have Ad Widge broadcast the user's ComCloud (such a broadcast is referred to herein as a “CloudCast”) via Bluetooth in such a manner that Ad Widge acts as a shield against information overload; a number of businesses along the user's path, may wish to send ads via WiFi to the user's mobile handset, however Ad Widge can block the undesired ads, and accept just those the user wishes.
  • In embodiments, Ad Widge matches the profiles of various entities 1028, against the user's profiles 1016, seeking matches for content (info/ads/et. al.) desired by the user against content available by the entity. Such entities may include, manufacturing entities 1029 (such as the manufacturer of Minute Maid orange juice), retail entities 1030 (such as grocery stores), advertising/marketing entities 1031 (such as ad buying agencies or market research firms), other users 1032 (who may, for example, share a similar profile), and/or other entities 1033 (who may, for example, share a similar profile).
  • In other embodiments, where entity profiles are not made directly available to Ad Widge, Ad Widge searches other sources such as existing online profiles/data, and performs (profile) matching against same.
  • Once one or more matches has been established, Ad Widge, as per the user's profile preferences, makes the user's profile available to the selected entity, for free or for a fee 1022 (which the user receives a portion of). Based upon the user's profile, the entity then decides whether or not to pay 1022 to send the user ads/offers/information/et. al. as per the user's preference profile. If the payment amount is non-zero, the user receives a portion of said monies.
  • Those skilled in the art may appreciate that entities already pay to get their ads/information to users; they pay middlemen entities, which make guesses as to which users might be interested in that entity's ads. Middlemen currently peddle profiles based upon guesses (often obtained by spying on users' online activities), and those guess-based profiles are sufficiently valuable that ad-sending entities pay middlemen to acquire such guess-based profiles. With Ad Widge, guesses about what users want/need are replaced by facts, from users, who create, manage and monetize their own profiles—automatically via Ad Widge. With Ad Widge, ad-sending entities no longer need to guess which customers and potential customers to reach and how to reach them. And since customers and potential customers instead manifest their profiles directly, via Ad Widge, to such entities, middlemen may be disintermediated. Thus, in a logical value-for-value transaction, users are paid for the inherent value of their profiles, which because they are based-upon actual products/services a user actually utilizes, are more accurate, and thus more valuable, than the guess-based profiles from middlemen common to the conventional art.
  • For example, the orange juice user might (be paid to) receive an ad from Minute Maid, which thereby hopes to convince the user to stay loyal to Minute Maid. However, if the user sets their Ad Widge preferences 1018 to accept ads/offers/information/et. al. 1019 from competing entities, the user might be paid 1022 to receive an ad from a Minute Maid competitor, such as Florida's Best orange juice, which thereupon presents information in their ad endeavoring to cause the user to switch brands.
  • Users 1001, via Ad Widge 1014, interact with ad-sending entities 1028 via their profile broadcast 1027. Examining the user's profile 1016 enables ad-sending entities 1028 to customize the ads. And ad-sending entities send ads 1019 to users who solicit same vis a vis their Ad Widge profile preferences 1018. Hence the present Invention: interactive, customized, user-solicited advertisements 1000.
  • FIG. 11 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein a user 1101 scans 1103 a movie ad in a newspaper 1117, whereupon the user's movie profile 1105 is updated, and thereby the movie-providing entities 1107 send ads, offers, and information 1114 per the user's profile 1115. For example, a user 1101 reading the Sunday newspaper is looking through the movie section and comes upon an ad 1117 for a movie the user wants to see “The Godfather.” In embodiments the user 1101 utilizes the user's mobile handset 1102 to scan the IP-based barcode on the ad 1117 for “The Godfather.” The IP-barcode includes the IP address where more information about the movie “The Godfather” can be found, and returns that information to the user's Ad Widge in the form of a data tile (a Tilz). This Tilz may include information such as theater times near the user, prices for DVDs in various store near the user, dates when the this movie will be available on a premium channel such as HBO, et. al. The Tilz users receive are customized based upon the profile of the person scanning the ad.
  • In embodiments the Ad Widge algorithm facility 1015 may process the received Tilz by heuristic methods that utilize information within the metadata appurtenant to the Tilz. The algorithm facility 1015 may then promote or demote individual elements comprising the user's list of names of profiles, in order to proffer to the user the name of the suggested profile to place “The Godfather” Tilz in. After receiving the user's query response, which might include the user choosing a profile other than the one suggested by Ad Widge, or manually creating a new profile category, “The Godfather” Tilz is sorted 1104 into the desired profile, the user's movie profile 1105. Ad Widge then presents 1107 the user's movie profile 1105, 1201 to appropriate entities 1108, 1109, 1110, 1111, 1112, 1113, such as those entities which can supply the user the movie “The Godfather.” Said entities then review the user's movie profile to determine if they would like to interact/transact with the user—a purported movie goer. For those entities 1108, 1109, 1110, 1111, 1112, 1113 that determine that the user 1101 is a party to whom they wish to advertise (or otherwise interact with or send information, et. al. to), those entities then send ads, offers, information, et. al 1114 as per the user's profile 1115.
  • For example, the first place a user can usually experience a particular movie is in the theater, so movie theaters 1108 near the user, which are playing the movie the user wants to see, might pay the user to send an ad touting that theater's high-end audio systems. Or another theater might make the user the following offer: purchase a movie ticket, and for just $7 more, the user can receive a digital download (the DVD Tilz) of the movie they are watching, while they are watching the movie, via Bluetooth or other means to the user's mobile handset. The next place a user can usually consume a movie is on pay-per-view. Pay-per-view may be offered by the user's television service provider, which can make a customized offer to the user to watch the movie. Next stores near the user that sell DVDs 1110 may wish to send ads to this movie going user, to entice the user to come in and purchase the DVD in their store—which enticement may be sweetened by a customized offer. Next online stores that sell DVDs 1111 may make offers to the user. Next premium channels such as HBO may make offers to the user; followed by other entities that can provide the movie desired by the user may wish to send ads/offers/information/et. al. to the user.
  • It should be noted that a user's profile 1105 may include a preference for accepting ads/offers/information/et. al. from related parties—in this case, say from food vendors, for delicious snacks and/or refreshing beverages that the user may wish to enjoy while watching the movie.
  • Finally, the Tilz that users receive are transactable objects, and thus users can make purchases directly from ads, even offline ads. In embodiments, users scan an offline ad 1117 in a newspaper, and receive the Tilz for that product. That data tile (Tilz) may include profile-based links to one or more Websites where the user can purchase the product. Alternatively, the Tilz itself may include the ability to purchase the product. This functionality may be informed by the use of third party servers or Websites. Such use however, may not be apparent to the user as per the Ad Widge graphical user interface, in order to provide a more user-friendly streamlined shopping experience. Order fulfillment may be effected by interface to, for instance, the product manufacturer/distributor/retailer's e-commerce Website (or other order fulfilling entity or process).
  • FIG. 12 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example user profile 1201, wherein the movie profile is informed by a data tile (Tilz) for every movie the user has already seen 1202, in addition to a tile for each movie the user would like to see in the future 1203; as combined with optional location 1206 and score 1207 data.
  • In embodiments users receive a tile/Tilz each time they consume a movie and thereby their movie profile is automatically built. The Tilz contains a profile of that movie watching experience. No matter whether a user sees a movie in the theater 1108, buys the DVD 1109, 1110, watches it on pay-per-view 1109, a premium channel (such as HBO) 1112, or on a “free” channel, the user receives a Tilz. For example, if a user goes to see a movie in the theater, they may receive the Tilz 1204 as their receipt for purchasing the ticket. In addition, the Tilz profile of the user's movie watching experience might include information such as the name of the movie watched; the theater name/address where the user consumed the movie; the movie showing time; ticket price; paid with credit card xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-1234; items purchased at the snack bar; games played in the lobby; movie rating by the user; et. al. Alternative embodiments not involving Tilz are conceived wherein the same or similar data tracking and presentation is accomplished by more conventional vehicles such as Websites.
  • In embodiments a user's Movies Already Seen profile 1202 is built-up automatically over time, or users can choose to manually (or via other means) build/supplant their movie profile Similarly, a user's Movies Not Yet Seen profile 1203 is automatically built-up over time via a plurality of means, including but not limited to scanning the barcodes of ads in the periodicals/newspapers/et. al.; digitally marking an ad the user hears on the radio or sees on TV; and/or recommendation by a friend or colleague; for movies the user hasn't yet seen, but wants to. In each case the user receives the Tilz for the movie, which Ad Widge then sorts 1104 into the user's movie profile 1201.
  • Users may choose to include location information 1206 in their movie profile, such as the zip code in which the user wishes to consume that particular movie (location preference, can be per profile as a whole, or per individual Tilz). This information is vital to potential ad-sending entities. For example, only those movie theaters near where the user wishes to consume the movie, would likely be interested in paying the user to send the user ads/offers/info/et. al. related to same.
  • In embodiments where ad-sending entities pay users to send ads to the user, the user must prove to the satisfaction of the ad-sending entity that the user (as per FIG. 12) is a legitimate movie-going user, whose expected future stream of movie-related expenditures 1203 are sufficient to warrant paying the user in the hopes of enticing that user to become a customer of the ad-sending entity. An additional tool ad-sending entities may wish to avail themselves of is the user's Web Cred score 1207. Similar in concept to a user's credit report FICO score, a Web Cred score is a numerical expression of a user's Web credibility; that is to say, a computed figure that examines factors such as the relationship between the number of information requests versus purchases for a given product. And in the same way that a FICO score informs a credit card company's decision to issue a person a credit card or not, an ad-sending entity can choose to factor a user's Web Cred score in, when deciding whether or not to pay to send ads to a given user.
  • FIG. 13 is a functional block diagram illustrating a depiction of a user's advertising profile 1301, and the constituent elements therein 1302; in addition to a depiction of an embodiment of a simple schematic illustrating the functional relationships between the user 1311 and the product and service providers 1316 who wish to advertise 1315 to the user, and highlights the role that the Invention's client-side ad profile matching facility 1313 plays in the process; in this case via the user's mobile handset 1312.
  • Ad Widge is a real world ad platform. Life takes place in the real world, via, for instance, interaction with the real world objects a person actually utilizes in their life. To that end, the Ad Widge platform is accessible by devices such as mobile handsets 1303, which, pending a compelling blend of hardware/services, may emerge as the next primary computing platform, and represent the first computing platform which a user might have on their person during their every waking hour. A user's profiles can live on the user's devices, not just on the Internet or other servers. Thus, the Ad Widge client-side software, which resides on the user's digital device of choice, enables users to create profiles 1302 as well as broadcast (CloudCast) profiles 1304 therefrom. Such profiles may include things such as: Profiles of the items they want to buy; Profiles of the types of people they want to date; Profiles of their appliances, which at some point will inevitably need replacing/repair; Profiles of those items they are performing searches for; And so on. With the Mobi Platform, users interact with the profiles of others, objects, entities to get what they want/need, with far less time and effort.
  • In embodiments users CloudCast their Ad Widge profile 1304 directly from their mobile handset 1303 via means such as Bluetooth, or peer-to-peer via various means (such as infrared IrDA), wireless carrier network, or other means (such as via the Internet). Thus as the user moves about in their real life, they can be constantly adding to and updating the profiles 1302 vis a vis the things they utilize in their life, and thereby constantly benefit by this realtime profile. Via Ad Widge users essentially carry around their wants and needs (in the form of profiles), and have their wants and needs met, with far less effort than as per the conventional art.
  • Even if a user's profiles 1302 are created and hosted locally, for instance on a user's mobile handset 1312, users can also have their profiles stored and matched via (and broadcast from) a remote server (or other device) via the Internet 1314 (or other means). User profiles can even be stored and matched on a user's PC or TV (and broadcast therefrom via a plurality of communication modalities). Multi-nodal profile synchronization can be performed manually by the user or automatically by Ad Widge as per various rules 1024, 1025.
  • Companies (product and service providers 1316, including product manufacturers and retailers, as well as various ad/marketing entities) can view user profiles 1302 and make decisions manually, or companies can create and surface their own profiles, optionally utilizing Ad Widge, and have their profiles automatically matched in realtime 1313 with other entities/objects/people/companies/et. al. with whom they might want to share/exchange/deliver ads/offers/information/et. al. 1315. A user's profile 1301, is matched with profiles of various companies, entities, objects, et. al. 1316 and can receive information/ads/offers/et. al. from same. Ad Widge surfaces, for example, the user's movie profile 1305 to appropriate entities 1316, such as those entities that can supply the movie to this user. Appropriate entities may also, or alternatively, subscribe to a user's profile and thereby receive realtime or asynchronous updates for free or for a fee (as opposed to being notified manually by Ad Widge, or being notified manually of a profile match from a prospective customer for a product/service that entity provides). Appropriate entities may subscribe to a user's entire profile 1302, or just selected elements, such as a user's clothing profile 1309.
  • Other embodiments of various interaction modalities between ad senders and ad receivers pursuant to the principles of the Invention are also envisioned.
  • FIG. 14 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of example process steps followed by advertisers 1405 as they first pay 1403 a user 1401 to view and review a user's profile 1301, to thereby determine if it's advantageous to pay 1404 to send the user ads 1412; and further consider paying additional monies 1404 for priority data placement 1413 (an unique variation on paid search, wherein the user is paid; as opposed to paying a middleman/search entity).
  • In embodiments, via Ad Widge, the user's profiles 1301 created as per FIG. 10, are made available to advertisers, who pay 1405 the user 1401 for the rights to examine and evaluate 1406 said profiles. Advertisers may pay the user a one time fee, for access to the user's profiles for a fixed amount of time, or may subscribe to the user's profiles as per a fixed or ongoing periodical fee structure. Based upon the profile information, advertisers then decide 1407 if it is advantageous to pay the user to send ads to said user. If not 1408, then advertisers may offer to send ads for free. Users may interact with advertisers directly or let Ad Widge negotiate 1411 on behalf of the user. In this case Ad Widge sets flag to ACCEPT for the subject ads if the user has set their preference profile MIN_CHARGE (minimum charge) to zero. If not the subject ads profile flag is set to REJECT.
  • In the case where the advertiser considers it advantageous to send this user ads, which sets a transaction flag to PROCEED, Ad Widge then presents the advertiser with the user's MIN_CHARGE fee. For any given profile, vis a vis setting the MIN_CHARGE, users may set the fee manually or let Ad Widge set the fee. Ad Widge may set the fee based upon a plurality of factors, including but not limited to comparing MIN_CHARGE fees for other users with a profile similar to the subject user, for the same or similar products (which may be derived by, among other means, matching product metadata tags).
  • At this point 1409, the advertiser is either willing or unwilling to meet the user's MIN_CHARGE. If so, the transaction flag is set to PROCEED, and the advertiser pays the user to send ads 1412. If not, the advertiser may negotiate 1410 with the user, via Ad Widge 1411, a lower price to PROCEED. Again, the user may either manually accept this lower price (in response to a query from Ad Widge) or allow Ad Widge to negotiate on behalf of the user, as per the above description. If no agreement on price is reached the transaction flag is set to STOP, and after providing both parties a receipt for the failed transaction, the transaction flag is set to END. The transaction receipt detail includes information regarding the profile in question, and the amounts one or both parties was willing to pay/accept for review of same, including the DIFF difference amount that caused the transaction to END.
  • For those situations where an ad-sending entity is offering an amount less than the user is willing to accept Ad Widge may negotiate 1411 on the user's behalf if the user has set a DIFF percentage, by which means Ad Widge may accept/reject a proposed profile review fee from an advertiser; for example, a user may set a MIN_CHARGE of X monetary units/credits, but set a DIFF percentage of 10%, enabling Ad Widge to accept a bid of 0.9X, or more, monetary units/credits. (Other embodiments are envisioned wherein ParaSites negotiates on a user's behalf without necessarily setting a DIFF percentage).
  • Understanding that a user may receive several ads from several different ad-sending entities, an advertiser may wish to promote its ad to the top of the stack. In which case the advertiser pays the user a premium fee to the user for priority data placement 1413. The process for setting and agreeing to the priority data placement fee can be effected via a number of modalities consistent with the principles of the Invention, including an auction. In the case of an auction, in embodiments, Ad Widge presents each of the ad-sending entities a dataset, which details the order in which Ad Widge will be presenting the ads to the user. Ad Widge informs the ad-sending entities that Ad Widge is accepting bids, consisting of additional monetary units/credits, for top priority vis a vis the ordered list detailing the order in which Ad Widge will present the ads to the user. After receiving all the bids (for which a TIME_LIMIT may be set), Ad Widge re-sets the priority order in which the ads are presented to the user according the #1 position to the highest bidder, the #2 position to the second highest bidder, and so on. Equal bid amounts are ordered as per various factors including according higher priority to bids received before other bids.
  • In embodiments, if and when a fee amount is accepted both by parties, for any of the above described or other cases, payment is effected by the payment facility 1022, 1403, 1404, with Ad Widge 1402 receiving a portion of the monies/credits. (Ad Widge only gets paid, when users get paid). Payments start at zero. Only when a user proves to the satisfaction of the ad-sending entity, does the user 1401 receive a non-zero payment amount.
  • FIG. 15 is an illustrative example of an embodiment of the profile creation process depicting one of a plurality of profile creation and management user interface screens 1501; in this case, manual profile creation via checklists 1502 or barcode scanning 1506 (as opposed to the Invention's automatic profile creation facilities).
  • Users can opt to manually create a profile 1505 of those items 1503, 1504 they would like to receive ads for 1508. Alternatively users can use barcode/RFID scanning 1506, or a plurality of other means to have any items, including the items they purchase every day, or have in their home, or see in other ads, etc. manually or automatically added to their Ad Widge profile 1016.
  • In embodiments manually adding an item to a user's profile 1008 may also be effected by downloading the data tile (Tilz) for a product from the Internet 1005, then dragging that data tile into the appropriate profile on the Ad Widge 1014 software screen. Alternatively, automatic additions to a user's profile may be effected by means such as a digital video recorder (DVR) or set top box that is able to send the data tile (Tilz) for a television program to the user's profile broadcast (ComCloud) 1027, when the user finishes watching said program.
  • Once a profile is created a user may also manually edit the profile 1507, in order to effect changes thereto.
  • FIG. 16 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example user interface screen 1601, wherein the value of information in a profile is measured (among other factors) by how current, how fresh 1602, the information is.
  • For example, a user who is interested in buying a new pair of running shoes 1604, scans the barcode of a pair in a store. The data tile (Tilz) is added to the users clothing profile 1309. Ad Widge notes the date, for instance, that the Tilz was added to the clothing profile. When advertisers later view and evaluate a user's clothing profile, they can thereby take into account how recently a user indicated an interest in running shoes, when deciding if to send the user ads, and additionally how much to pay a user to effect same. Generally speaking, advertisers want to strike while the iron is hot, and thus might accord the greatest value to a profile Tilz that was just added, under the assumption that the user is currently actively interested in (this case) buying running shoes. By contrast, if a user indicated an interest in buying running shoes six months ago, advertisers might be less interested in paying the user very much money, as they might assume the user has lost interest in buying same. To that end, in embodiments the Ad Widge user interface screen 1601, includes a “freshness” indicator 1602, indicating for each Tilz how long ago that Tilz was added to the subject profile. The freshness indicator 1602 may include a plurality of user selectable time units 1603 including: seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc.
  • User, however, can manually set their interest level 1605, despite for instance, a long product search. For example, if a user is interested in buying running shoes, but is a picky shopper, that user might still be actively interested in buying running shoes, even if, according to the freshness indicator 1602, the Tilz was added months ago. In that case, the user can indicate to potential advertisers (including shoe providing entities) that the user's interest in purchasing shoes is still “medium high” 1605. Thus ad sending entities may more interested than they otherwise would be, knowing now the user is still actively shoe shopping.
  • In cases where a particular item could logically be included in one or more different profiles or ad index topics 1604, the user can manually add, Ad Widge can suggest, and/or the Tilz metadata can already include (or later be remotely updated with) tags which inform inclusion in, or exclusion from, other profiles. In this case, the running shoe Tilz might also be included in the user's sports equipment, running, and/or shoes profiles. Tilz function in this regard, as a relational database, which dramatically increases the usability and value to various parties of Ad Widge profiles.
  • FIG. 17 is a diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein products 1702, 1703, 1704 are interacting with the user 1705 (via the use of RFID); as per the user's profile, Ad Widge is allowing the crackers 1702 to send the user information, but not allowing information from the cereal 1703 or soup 1704. Additionally, the diagram illustrates an embodiment of an example of how scanning 1707 the grocery receipt 1708 can, if the user wishes, automatically add those items from that purchase to the user's ad profile.
  • One of the advertising trends that the Invention enables is, in embodiments, for products 1702, 1703, 1704 to start to interact with shoppers 1705. The average supermarket 1701 in America carries 45,000 items. It would be cacophonous, if thousands of items interacted with a user, as the user walked into/through the store. Instead, users profit from Ad Widge's shield function—a shield against information overload. Each product on a shelf 1702, 1703, 1704 in a store 1701 has some measure of information about that product available in a plurality of locations, often including Websites. Thus there are profiles of each item available somewhere, that the user can benefit from when entering and/or moving about in, for example, a store.
  • In embodiments such profiles can be “sent” to the user's mobile (or other digital) device as follows: the shelf end-cap under each group of like items has an RFID tag affixed. The RFID tag is encoded with the Internet Protocol (IP) address where more information about that item is located. When a user with a mobile handset 1706 featuring an RFID facility walks near an end cap, the RFID facility can interrogate the RFID tag, and when the IP address is returned, point a browser to that location, and thereby download, in realtime, a data tile (Tilz) about that item. In embodiments Ad Widge then presents such Tilz in a unique way, by ghosting the Tilz onto the user's mobile device (in such a manner that the opacity of the Tilz is set to a percentage, say 50%) such that the user can see through the Tilz. If the user has a mobile handset with a camera facility, then the user can turn the camera facility on, hold the mobile handset up in the air in front of the user, in such a manner that the user can see the Tilz for various objects appear in realtime, as the user pans across various items on the shelf, which the user can see in the background behind the ghosted-in Tilz.
  • That Tilz is the profile of that item. The profile may include, but not be limited to, such information as price (which via Ad Widge can be customized and different for different users, as per each user's Ad Widge profile), nutrition information (calories, fat grams, etc.), ingredients list (including whether such ingredients are consistent with the diet service the user is a member of, and/or is kosher, and/or vegan, etc.), et. al. Thereby for a user who is on, for instance, a low sodium diet, Ad Widge could alert the user to items that match the user's low sodium diet profile. And further, in embodiments, Ad Widge then deliver ads/offers/information/et. al. 1019 to the user, in realtime, if the user's Ad Widge preference profile 1016 indicates such interaction is desirable, and even purchase the item 1021, 1022, on the spot, via mobile device.
  • Those skilled in the art may appreciate that there are a plurality of alternative embodiments and modalities to those described herein that achieve essentially the same or similar data retrieval and profile matching, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Invention (i.e. in embodiments, everything has a profile, profiles are matched, and thereby more intelligent interactions and transactions are facilitated).
  • In embodiments, once a user has completed their (intelligent) shopping, the user scans the barcode on the bottom of their receipt 1708, and thereby receives an individual Tilz for each items they purchased. With Ad Widge, users can receive and manage all their Tilz right on their mobile device 1707 (local Tilz; unlike a Website, which is a remote data source that generally requires a network connection to access and utilize). All the Tilz collectively can, for instance, be added to the user's Groceries profile 1308; and individual Tilz added to other more focused profiles, such as Junk Food, Camping Trip Food, etc. or even added to a profile the user might wish their doctor to view, such as the user's Health profile, which might include all the food items a user consumes over a given period of time. Ad Widge enables a user's doctor or insurance company or other person/entity/machine to subscribe to the one or more of a user's profiles (as per the user's preferences/permissions regarding same 1016, 1024).
  • In embodiments, users automatically receive the Tilz for the items they purchase (without need to scan a physical receipt) when transactions are performed electronically 1021, say via mobile handset 1707, which delivers a Tilz as the digital receipt. The digital receipt includes an individual Tilz for each item the user purchased.
  • FIG. 18 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example architecture wherein a user's ad profile 1801 informs how, when and where 1803, 1804, 1805 a user would like to receive ads, in addition to which ads to receive 1802.
  • In embodiments a user's Ad Widge profiles are stored remotely on servers 1801, which ad-issuing entities 1802 can access via various means including the Internet. Thusly fortified by the data contained in the user's profiles, ad-issuing entities can send ads to users, as per the user's profiles which contain preferences (among others) as to how, when and where the user would like to receive said ads. For example, a user might wish to receive work/business-related ads, between 6 PM and 6:30 PM, Monday through Friday, on the car radio 1803, while driving home from work; Ads related to household items on the user's TV 1804 from 7-9 PM on weeknights.; And all other ads directly on the user's mobile handset 1805.
  • In other embodiments, users will carry their Ad Widge profile Tilz around with them, literally on their mobile handset. In this case, ad-sending entities may obtain and review the user's profile, via interaction with the user's mobile handset 1805 (and therefore, not necessarily via a remote server 1801 that also hosts the user's profiles). The ad-sending entity 1802 may send the ad, which is sent to the user in the form of a Tilz, directly to the user's mobile handset 1805. The user may wish to view the ad via the user's mobile handset or stream it from the user's handset to the user's car radio 1803 or TV 1804. In embodiments, Ad Widge facilitates same as follows: the ad-issuing entity 1802 sends the ad to the user's mobile handset 1805 in the form of a Tilz. As the user is driving home, the radio broadcast includes notification signals in the metadata broadcast alerting appropriate devices, such as the user's mobile handset 1805 that a commercial break is coming up, and if the user's ad serving facility 1019 (Ad Widge) has any ads to insert, indicate to this station now (so the regularly scheduled commercial can be muted) and stream them from the mobile handset 1805 via Bluetooth in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds BEGIN_USERAD.
  • In a situation where a content provider is serving ad-supported content, the content provider's ad server 1802 first checks with the user's Ad Widge profile 1801, before ads for products or services being shown in a video, TV program, movie, Website 1806, etc. are served to the screen. In embodiments, the ad will be streamed from the user's mobile handset 1805 to the user's PC 1809 which is displaying the Website 1806 where the video is playing. Users may be presented with a choice of ads 1807 or 1808. Based upon the user's selection, the user's Ad Widge profile may be updated locally on the user's mobile handset 1805 (if within, say, Bluetooth distance of the PC 1809), or remotely via the Internet to the Ad Widge servers 1801 containing the user's profiles.
  • Those skilled in the art may appreciate that a user may utilize other digital devices that are similar to or different from a mobile handset, featuring wireless carrier service or not; Such devices are consistent with the principles of the Invention, and are thusly encompassed herein by inference.
  • FIG. 19 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example of an unique ad management facility, wherein ads/offers/information/et. al. 1902, 1903, 1904, a user receives are received in thumbnail tiles (Tilz) that are mapped onto (in this case) a sphere 1901; whereupon the sphere information management facility (hereafter “Spherez”) attracts like content to it, for which the user may be paid directly by the ad-sending entity, for prominent placement on the user's topic-specific sphere (Spherez) 1901.
  • When users receive ads on their mobile device they can be viewed using several different information display and navigation facilities such as Spherez (multi-faceted spheres onto which Tilz are mapped). And if the user chooses, when they receive an ad for Tide detergent, they can allow competitors to send an ad for a similar product. These competing ads appear clustered closely to the original Tide ad Tilz on the Spherez. Users can then click on the Tilz of the ad they wish to view and it will be delivered to the device of their choice: mobile device, TV computer, car radio, etc. Users get paid to receive competing ads. This is also why the Tilz construct is so important—its an object for advertisers to target. If a user who is in the market for tires, has been doing research on tires (various search Tilz are now on her Imminent Purchase Spherez), then she could easily get paid $5 or more by competing tire companies who can see the relevant data about this user as it pertains to her car (how many tires the user needs at this time, what size, what make/model/year of car, any modifications to the vehicle, etc.). Further, the user may then start to get paid to receive solicitations from local tire shops to sell or install the desired tires (say Bridgestone). And once the user has made an actual appointment as represented by an appointment Tilz that user might receive $10 or possibly $25 from competing tire companies to switch her upcoming order to their brand. It's the holy grail of advertising—a user who is literally in the act of making a purchase. How much a user continues to get paid depends upon that user's conversion rations. Conversion ratios are how often a user follows through on their purchase. Conversion ratios also matter via a vis the amount advertisers will pay that user.
  • It may be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that fields such as search are becoming inextricably linked to advertising, and thus embodiments that relate to search/advertising warrant exploration.
  • With Ad Widge users can, for the first time, actually actively manage their ads 1902, 1903, 1904. And with Ad Widge Spherez, ads achieve a unique level of capability and usability—thus making ads far more valuable to users—literally making users lives better. For example, if a user's microwave oven is 10 years old, and needs replacing, the user, in embodiments, scans the barcode/RFID of their microwave oven to receive the data tile 1902 (Tilz) on their mobile handset. The received Tilz is mapped onto an information navigation facility called a Spherez 1901, which appears on the user's mobile handset screen. Spherez 1901 enable users to manage the ads/offers/information/et. al. they receive.
  • As per the conventional art, a user who needed to replace their microwave oven would most likely sit down at their PC, and utilize a search engine to seek out information about microwave ovens. In fact, as per the conventional art, users often have to become a mini-expert when they need to accomplish something: find a reliable plumber to fix the leaking kitchen sink, figure out how to increase their child's chances of getting into the desired nursery school, or in this case, find a replacement for their aging microwave oven. As per the conventional art a user is likely to take a significant deal of time, trying to learn about microwave ovens: what's new since the user last purchased a microwave?; which manufacturer's are reliable?; should the user purchase the microwave online or at a local store near the user? (taking into account such issues such as product returns and repairs).
  • And as step #1, which ovens are right for me? As per the conventional art, a user would likely have to try to locate a tape measure, then go into their kitchen attempt to measure the dimensions of the opening of their cabinetry in which their current microwave resides. At which point the user realizes the microwave also provides the cooktop ventilation. The user is probably scribbling down all this information on a piece of paper, which they have to take back to their PC utilize as the starting point for a long and rambling search for suitable replacement microwaves.
  • During the conventional art search process (which is funded by the appurtenant advertising, such as paid search), the user's time is being expended, and monies are being made by the search provider. Monies paid to search providers increase the costs of goods. Product makers build their marketing/advertising costs into the price of their products. Therefore every dollar that goes into a search engine's pocket is ultimately a dollar taken out of a user's pocket.
  • With Ad Widge other entities take their time supplying information to the user, and it is the user who gets paid.
  • The Tilz 1902 for the user's microwave oven, contains the profile for the user's microwave oven. With Ad Widge users don't have to become a mini-expert for all the problems they need to solve during the course of their regular life. With Ad Widge, the user doesn't have to research the dimensions of their microwave, or try to discover the power requirements, or if it is a combination microwave/cooktop vent model. The user doesn't need to know any such details. In embodiments the user, via Ad Widge, simply indicates that their microwave oven needs replacement and drags the Tilz for their old microwave oven from the blocked ads (REJECT) profile, to the seeking ads (ACCEPT) profile. And, in embodiments, within seconds, two things happen: the user starts receiving profile-informed ads/information, and the user gets paid to receive same.
  • Only those entities which manufacture microwaves that fit the proper dimensions, and include required functionality (such a cooktop venting) send ad Tilz or offer Tilz or information Tilz to the user. And only those bricks and mortar stores near the user send the user ads, hoping to convince the user to purchase the microwave at their store.
  • If a manufacturer made a microwave oven that did not include the cooktop venting function (and thus would not meet the user's needs) were to send the user an ad or information Tilz, it would be a waste of that company's time and money (as the user won't be buying their product) thus they are automatically disincentivized from bombarding the user with ads.
  • In response to the newly flagged ACCEPT condition regarding microwave ovens in the user's Ad Widge profile, the user may start to receive additional ads/offers/information/et. al. 1903, 1904 presently. The Spherez maps these Tilz onto the sphere in such a way as to site the most closely matched responses as close as possible to the key position 1902 on the Spherez—currently occupied by the Tilz 1902 for the user's current microwave. Ad Widge's profile matching algorithm facilities 1015 compare the profile of the incoming Tilz to the user's current microwave and place the best matches 1903, 1904 as close as possible to the key Tilz for the user's microwave 1902.
  • Alternatively if the user's Ad Widge profile allows, ad-sending entities can pay the user for premium data placement 1413 on the Spherez 1901 (a variation on paid search advertising wherein the users get paid, as opposed to the search engine middlemen as per the conventional art).
  • Several other aspects of the Ad Widge information navigation modalities are worth noting. First, Spherez is just one of an essentially limitless number of possible embodiments for ads/offers/information/et. al. presentation. Instead of spheres they can be cubes, or any shape the user desires. Third parties can build other Ad Widge information navigation modalities (templates) for anyone to use, either for free or for a fee.
  • Spherez are a convenient navigation modality for the smaller screen size of the mobile handset (and work well with a touchscreen wherein the user can navigate the Spherez by flicking with their finger which causes the Spherez to spin, and thereby reveal the desired Tilz). Users on a mobile handset may prefer a handful of relevant search results (as per Ad Widge), to a million blue links (as per conventional search engines).
  • Spherez attract like content—which revolutionizes search. With a conventional search engine, a search is performed, but the search results are generally not saved. So any given user may do the same search over and over again. With Spherez search results are saved—the ads/offers/information/et. al. a user receives related to a given topic are each maintained on separate profile-based Spherez (that the user can keep indefinitely). FIG. 19 illustrates the user's microwave oven Spherez. Ad Widge creates Spherez for each of a user's profiles. For example, a user whose hobby is comic book collecting may have a Comic Book Spherez, which stores current information (Tilz) the user already has, and continues to attract new information, such as upcoming comic book conventions, and offers from comic book sellers. Spherez are “living” entities. That is to say, they continue to function in the background, attracting like content. In the case of the user's microwave oven Spherez 1901, it might continue to attract like content, such as ads about microwavable cookware, or microwave recipes, or information about sterilizing a baby's bottle using the microwave, etc. However, each user's Spherez only attracts content as per that user's profile. Thus each user's Spherez are different, even if they are about the same topic—such as microwave ovens. If a user doesn't have a baby, that user likely won't receive the baby bottle sterilization Tilz. User's profiles inform inbound messaging.
  • With Ad Widge, search is no longer a process that puts all the burden on the user, instead search becomes something that happens automatically, and continuously, and minimizes the amount of time a user has to invest in the process. Ad Widge respects the user experience. Conventional search does not. With conventional search, the search engine makes money off users; wherein Ad Widge makes money with users.
  • Conventional search also fails users in other ways. Consider the case of two users in Paris, each one trying to figure out where to go for dinner. As per the conventional art, they each avail themselves of a search engine, and type in “Paris restaurants.” The search engine, returns the same results for both users. There are billions of users on earth, each of whom are different, yet conventional art search engines return the same results for all users. One-size-fits-all search/advertising is a woefully inadequate solution.
  • Consider the additional case information that one person is a student backpacking through Europe and the other person is the CEO of a large company. Chances are the student wants to pay very little for dinner, while the CEO might be willing to pay quite a lot. Search engines should deliver different results for different people. Yet don't.
  • Ads are information that inform purchase decisions. The two Paris users need information to inform their restaurant choice.
  • Utilizing Ad Widge is a far more effective way of informing their restaurant choice. In embodiments, Ad Widge sets their Restaurant profiles to ACCEPT and updates the user's location information 1206. Each user's restaurant profile consists of a Tilz for each restaurant they've already been to, thus Paris restaurants can make an informed decision as to whether the student's or CEO's restaurant tastes are such that they are a possible match. And if so, those restaurants send the particular user their ad Tilz, and potentially pay the user to receive such information 1903, 1904.
  • In embodiments Ad Widge blurs some aspects of the line between search and advertising. Ad Widge delivers more relevant information to users; in this case delivering differing and highly relevant sets of ads/offers/information/et. al. based upon each user's profile; whereas conventional art search engines treat every single user on earth, as if they all had the same profile. Profile-based search/advertising, as per the present Invention, obsoletes the conventional art.
  • Embodiments are virtually endless, and compelling, and unique, and revolutionize aspects of search, marketing, advertising, and merchandising.
  • These and other objects and features of the present Invention may become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the description and practice of the Invention as set forth hereinafter.
  • The Invention description makes reference to barcode/RFID scanners on mobile handsets, however the same or similar information may be acquired by other means and/or modalities such as sourcing information via a Website, and/or by utilizing devices other than mobile handsets, consistent with the principles of the Invention, and therefore alternative means, modalities and devices are included herein by inference.
  • The Invention consists primarily, though not exclusively, of a Website, server software, and a widget (Webified mini-software application) that together facilitate a novel method for delivering and receiving advertising. Via the Website (easily accessible and usable via mobile handset) or widget, users create an account. Users then create a profile of items (or types of items) they would like to see ads for. Advertisers receive permission from the users for the right to both view the user's ad profile and send ads to the user as per the user's ad solicitation profile. Advertisers then deliver ads to all the users who indicated a desire to receive an ad for that specific product or service.
  • Misc.
  • In embodiments the Ad Widge site is pre-populated with a list of various types of businesses, service providers, etc. similar to those in phonebooks, which may aid the user in building a list of specific entities or classes of entities from which the user may want to receive ads. In embodiments the user then creates a profile listing the items they may want ads for, including via means such as scanning the product barcodes/RFID of everyday items they use.
  • In embodiments when the Ad Widge widget is active on a user's mobile handset, and the user is scanning a barcode, a query bubble (Tilz) pops up and asks: “Start Coupons for this Item, Stop Coupons for this Item, or Sorting Bin” If the user selects the Sorting Bin, the item is stored in a general folder that the user can come back to later and sort into the correct coupon profile later (or have an automatic sorting facility accomplish the same (automatically)).
  • Once the user has established an Ad Profile, the user can receive ads sent via the Internet or other means such as WiFi or Bluetooth. For example, let's say a user has added Gyms and Coffee Shops to their Ad Profile. While walking down the street with the Ad Widge widget active on their mobile handset, the user can receive ads according to their Ad Profile:
  • Solicit, Send, and Receive Ads
  • A user's Ad Profile can be synced with the user's other profiles such as Regularly Purchased Items, Gift Registry List, Recreation List or Entertainment List (which may include items such as the restaurants, etc. frequently used by that user). Once the user's Ad Profile is established Ad Widge solicits ads from all service/product suppliers and other entities that match the user's preference profile.
  • Ad-sending entities can then provision ads. The Ad Widge Website comes pre-populated with templates enabling users to create digital ads. Ad Widge also encourages third parties to upload digital ad templates which they can offer for free or for a fee. Ad senders pay users for the right to send ads as per the preferences of the user.
  • Users can receive ads on their mobile handsets (or any digital device of their choice). If the user has solicited and received offers, they are ready to redeem them. Ad Widge offers can be redeemed in person, by using a mobile handset to display and redeem the offer at suitably equipped POS (point of sale) stations. Offers may also be redeemed via mobile payment transaction using a unique ID number for each offer.
  • In embodiments the Ad Widge digital, user-solicited offer redemption process is executed in three primary steps:
  • 1) Upon presentation of the digital offer, the shopper receives an immediate discount for the amount of the offer utilized in the transaction;
    2) The retailer electronically presents the digital offer to the offer issuer for payment; and
    3) Once the offer issuer pays the retailer the offer face amount (at specified intervals which could be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) plus a small incentive fee, the shopper may receive an incentive such as a payment for utilizing the offer.
  • All three parties can be paid simultaneously for all-digital transactions (though in some cases offer issuers will ask that retailers present aggregated audited bundles of offers for payment). The offer issuer may induce retailers to use digital offers by offering a larger incentive fee for using digital (non-paper) offers.
  • Detailed Ad Widge Process
  • On a Website (easily accessible and utilized, for instance, via mobile handset) users sign up. Users then create an ad profile of items (or types of items) they would like to see coupons for.
  • Ad issuers pay for the right to both view the recipient's ad profile and send ads to the recipient as per the recipient's ad solicitation profile.
  • Ad issuers deliver ads to all the recipients who indicated a desire to receive a ad for that specific product or service.
  • Ads can be delivered where and how the user selects: such as to social networking sites, online videos, within video games, to mobile handsets or PCs or TVs, and via email, text message or postal mail (or other means). Wireless Internet networks (such as WiFi) enable ads targeted to specific geographic locations. GPS-enabled mobile handsets enable ads targeted to even more specific locations.
  • Users can also change ad receiving venues (for example: stop sending this type of ad to my mobile handset, and instead send it via postal mail).
  • Ads are also delivered in a format according to the users' preferences profile: ads alone, ads delivered within ads, detailed information on the ad, just basic information, etc. Also users can control when ads are delivered, especially in the case where users choose to receive ads on their mobile handset. Users may not want ads arriving during their work hours, so they can choose to schedule to receive them, say, only from 6-8 PM at night and perhaps during their lunch hour.
  • The Ad Widge Website also maintains a history, at the user's option, of all past ads/offers received. A user's Ad Widge can store a plurality of ads/offers and make use of them while shopping anywhere in the world.
  • Ad Widge automatically moves expired ads/offers into an Expired Ads/Offers folder. Users can make public or share with other users their Ad Profile of ads sought. Users can choose to view ads in the Website white spaces that result from the use of ad blocking software.
  • In embodiments Ad Widge ads have an IP barcode enabling instant purchase of the item via mobile handset—for which the user may be given a discount or paid a rebate.
  • Ad Profile
  • Users set up a profile indicating the type of items they'd like to receive ads for, and what format (which can differ for each item) they'd like their ads to be: email, text messages (SMS), videos (MMS), TV/radio ads, or postal mail delivered to their home/office. A user's profile also details how they'd like the information to be presented to them: high level only, intangible benefits, or technical details, or comparison to competitors, etc.
  • Users can create their own profiles, either explicitly or implicitly. Explicitly: via filling out their ad profile on the Ad Widge Website or on the user's mobile handset. Implicitly: via means such as barcode/RFID scanning with their mobile handset. Barcode/RFID scanning can, at the user's option, track a user's actual shopping habits. In addition users can scan barcodes of items they are just browsing, but not buying, in offline stores (which enables Ad Widge to collect data about offline activities not included by today's digital search or advertising tools). Ad Widge also tracks tag-related search (uTag) results to add a user's online browsing habits to their profile as well. Such barcode scanning can also track where users eat (restaurants) and recreate (sporting events attended, etc.), what users read (which books users read or own or borrow from the library), and where users vacation (hotels, airlines, etc.). Ad Widge can track, and add to a user's profile, those items on Websites or in TV ads a user requests more information about.
  • In embodiments users can elect to let Ad Widge automatically create the user's ad profile based upon the user's barcode/RFID scanning habits. A user's ad profile can be automatically created via the use of barcode/RFID scanners on mobile handsets to mark those items users are interested in. By scanning those items a user regularly encounters in the user's daily life (such as food items, household items such as light bulbs, DVDs purchases, etc.) it is very simple to build and manage the list of items for which users want to receive ads for. At the user's choice, Ad Widge can monitor which items a user barcode/RFID scans and suggest ads that might be of interest.
  • The product/service Ad Index List is pre-populated by Ad Widge but can be added to and maintained by users and product/service vendors who want to make sure their ads can be found.
  • Many of the offline, real-life items/products/objects in a user's life have a barcode/RFID that can be scanned. In embodiments, only those items that the user chooses to scan and wants to receive information on will be fed to the Invention which then automatically updates the user's ad profile. The user may also manually edit the ad profile created by the Ad Widge software.
  • Users can create an ad profile to indicate which items they'd like to receive ads for, and which items they don't want to receive ads for (as well as items that they are neutral towards receiving ads for). In embodiments, Ad Widge features a list of items, with radio buttons next to each item for the user to click: Want Ads, Don't Want Ads, or Neutral. For example: if a user has enough credit cards, the user can indicate that they Don't Want any credit card ads/offers.
  • Ad Widge users may utilize a new type of reverse electronic “cookies” (hereafter My Cookiez)—a token or short packet of data passed between communicating programs—to send ad profile information to TV's, radios, other devices, and for various forms of online and offline activity. For example, when a user is on a Website, the Invention can automatically send that user's cookies (My Cookiez) to that Website's servers (or directly to the company serving the advertising on that Website) to transmit the user's ad profile, so the Website can deliver user-solicited ads to the user.
  • Ad Topic List
  • For each category list topic Ad Widge collects (links to) ads related to that topic. When advertisers create an ad they also include metadata for the ad that includes category tags/keywords. Once the ad (with metadata tags) has been created and placed online the Ad Widge (uTag tag-based) search engine crawls to find tagged ads and delivers them to the Ad Widge Ad Topic profile.
  • Let's say a user wanted to see ads for a delivery pizza parlors, the user scrolls down to pizza in the Ad Categories list in Ad Widge. Ad Widge collects ads (based on tag keywords) from various pizza parlors and present the results in a manner described below. The user clicks on the data tile (Tilz) featuring the pizza parlor they would like to see ads for.
  • Contextual Ads
  • Users can also set their ad profile to allow them to receive ads for things not specifically listed in their ad wish profile. So for instance while watching a sporting event on TV (or Website or mobile handset or other or listening via digital radio or other) they could receive sports related ads (advertising upcoming sporting events, sports memorabilia, etc.), but not solicitations for, say, refinancing a mortgage.
  • Blended Ads
  • Users can choose to allow or disallow blended ads. For example the following radio ad: Expression College of Digital Arts (San Francisco) presents an Expression Session with the band Silver Sun Pickups. Users who are into live music might allow such a blended ad for this concert (which also advertises this local college).
  • Pop-in Ads
  • Ads that pop into, say, the TV picture during the show or are sent to the user's mobile device instead. For example, a user is watching a show where the cast members are in a beautiful hotel, and the user wants to find out more information about that hotel. The user, via IP-based barcodes (Net Dotz), can request the Tilz for that hotel with the user's mobile handset (Mobi), and thereby receive a custom Tilz for that hotel (with information customized as per the profile of each viewer who receives the hotel Tilz). Users can click through the Tilz for a map that locates the hotel; to reviews from travel enthusiasts with profiles similar to the user's; discounts/offers/promotions for the hotel; automatic reminder whenever the user's mobile device (Mobi) is within, say, 50 miles of the hotel; or when the user's travel itinerary indicates the user will be within 50 miles of the hotel. Pop-in ads appear as per the user's Ad Widge profile. So for instance, for a user who is watching a TV show, pop-in ads could contain information about things such as the couch the cast are sitting on, or the restaurant they're eating in, or the wine they just ordered, or the clothes they are wearing, etc. etc. The ads are send to the user's mobile device (Mobi) during the show and thus won't interfere with the viewing experience of others in the room. And the user gets paid to receive these ads. The user can keep the ad on their mobile device (Mobi) and it will be updated with the latest information on the hotel (room or spa pricing and specials, events held there, etc.); updated whenever the user's mobile device (Mobi) is connected to the Internet, or, and this is a unique Mobi feature, when it finds a more updated Tilz for that hotel on another person's digital device, which can then automatically update the user's Tilz via, say, Bluetooth.
  • Interest Categories
  • Users can also set their ad profile to allow ads anytime, anywhere (TV, Website, digital radio) that meet the user's interest categories. For instance, movie buffs could specify in their profile that they are always open to seeing the latest movie trailers, no matter if the Website they happen to be visiting has anything to do with movies or not (meaning non-contextual ads are OK if they meet the user's specified Interest Categories.) And users can even set specifics within an interest category. For example, only horror film trailers, or just comedy movies, or actions movies, or anything with Halle Berry in it, or romantic comedies, or any movie trailers except for foreign films with subtitles.
  • Behavioral Ads
  • Users can choose to receive ads based upon the behavior of others with similar profiles, who solicited certain ads. Such a profile might be: attends sporting events, and wine tastings, and art galleries, married, car lover, age 25-40, etc. A user's behavior profile can be imported from a social networking site, or created from scratch on the Ad Widge Website. In embodiments the anonymous behavioral ad matching is accomplished via the Ad Widge servers which compare ad serving for mathematically constructed groups formed by various aggregations of behavior keywords. All permutations of up to 4 keywords at a time are examined, and clear trends with very high degrees of confidence are used to suggest ads for a user, based upon ads solicited by others with similar behavior profiles.
  • Affinity Ads
  • Users can choose to receive ads based upon the interests or behavior of others in their affinity groups (women, men, college students, elderly, married, single, soccer team, etc.). For example, other women (with similar profiles) wanted ads for these cosmetics or clothes, so this user might also.
  • Self-Aggregating Groups
  • Before all advertisers switch to one-to-one marketing, some may wish to continue to want to market to larger groups of users. Users can choose to create or join groups of people with similar profiles. Ad Widge facilitates entente cordiale—the friendly agreement among such users to work together to maximize ad profile monetization. Ad Widge aggregates these groups and makes them available to advertisers using, in embodiments, no-personally identifiable information about the users in the group. Users can join, or elect to allow themselves to be automatically added to various groups as they are created. Users get paid for the resultant ads. Users can also choose to be the curator or host of a group. They might try to create a very large group; or they might want to be very selective about who they let in to the groups to increase the attractiveness to advertisers (and thereby increase the payment per user). Third parties can also choose to curate or host various groups of profiles.
  • Intramedia Ads or Intrastitial Ads
  • Ad Widge technology is compatible with embedded ads within a show, movie, video, photo, document (Tilz) or any digital content, as long as the intramedia/intrastitial ad supports tags. Users can wirelessly collect such ads/offers via mobile handset. Intramedia/interstitial content are ads or content that the user cannot fast forward past or otherwise skip. Intramedia ads may float on top of part of the existing program. Interstitial ads are ads between segments of a show or between successive Tilz, and are displayed between shows (or during commercial breaks) but, again, cannot be defeated or avoided by the user.
  • Freshness
  • As illustrated in an example embodiment in FIG. 16 the user's ad profile indicates to the ad senders how recently the user indicated a desire to receive ads on a given subject. The time and date an item is added to a user's Want Ads profile is indicated to those viewing the profile. Users who recently indicated an interest for a particular ad item might be more valuable to advertisers, than, say, a user who more than a year ago indicated an interest for that same item. This difference in freshness value is reflected in the price advertisers pay to view a user's profile. The more up to date the profile (on average, across all profile data) the more useful the advertisers will find the users profile.
  • The interest freshness radio button is automatically set to highest interest level the first time a customer registers a product interest. Then each week (or other time interval) the interest level is automatically lowered along with the price charged advertisers (and commissions paid to users), one notch. The user may countermand this automatic lowering of interest level by manually re-setting it to the highest level—indicating their interest in purchasing such a product is still very high. Users may also re-set the highest level of interest in any given item by scanning its barcode again.
  • This freshness process assures ad issuers fresh interest on the part of the consumers they market to.
  • Usage Based Suggestions
  • At the user's choice, Ad Widge, via a proprietary software algorithm, can monitor which items a user barcode/RFID scans and suggest other ads that might be of interest. The user could also choose to let Ad Widge automatically create the user's ad profile based upon the user's barcode/RFID scanning habits.
  • Users can also indicate in their profile that they are willing to let anyone send an ad—on any subject—if the sender meets the requirements set by the user. The user could then choose to add that ad to their Want or Don't Want ad profile.
  • Users Rate Ads
  • Another unique feature of the Invention is interactivity. Advertisers have longed for the ability to find out how relevant/useful the ads were to various users, in real-time, without the artificial focus-group environment. Users can choose to, or not to, rate the ads they receive for quality and relevance as well as suggest improvements. Users can also change ad receiving venues (for example: stop sending this type of ad to my mobile handset, and instead send it to my TV, where the same ad may receive a higher rating, due perhaps to the larger screen real estate on a TV).
  • In this way the Ad Widge software engine fine tunes the likes/dislikes of its users. And by rating an ad the very lowest rating, the user can stop all future ads of that type from that vendor. The user ad ratings information may, at the user's option, be made available to ad vendors for free or for a fee. Thus, users are incentivized to rate ads, since only ad-rating users will receive a percentage of the income generated by selling Ad Effectiveness Statistics back to the ad-sending entities.
  • 4 Types of Ratings
  • 1) Ad issuers can rate users (e.g. person A is a heavy ad watcher, person B rarely watches requested ads).
    2) Users can rate the ads from the advertisers (and/or users can rate the ad supplying company, such as the product vendor).
    3) Usage Ratio: for each Ad Widge ad solicited Ad Widge software calculates ratios such as the percentage of ads requested vs. the percentage watched.
    4) Purchase Ratio: Ad Widge software assigns a score (a rating) that matches a user's purchases against their solicited-ad profile (Ad Widge software can track, at the user's option, the percentage of solicited ads that lead to purchases of that specific product—across all ads requested and utilized by a given user).
  • Market Research
  • Users who rate the ads might receive (at the advertiser's choice) additional incentives from the advertiser, which may be in the form of a novel digital, credits-based currency (hereafter “iDough”). Advertisers or market research firms can also send more detailed questionnaires about the product/service ad to selected users whose profile allows this. Thus the Invention enables a new type of real-time market research.
  • User Run Ad Forums
  • An additional aspect of Ad Widge interactivity is the user-run forums which give users who wish to discuss the advertising, or any other matter/topic, a place to express their views. In embodiments, advertisers can pay to view and monitor such forums, however they may not interact with any user, unless that user specifically opts-in to interaction with advertisers in the forums.
  • Widget
  • Ad Widge's software widget resides on user devices (particularly mobile handsets), and enables (among many other functions) stores, merchants, service providers, etc. to send ads to a user's mobile handset (or device of user's choice or in paper form to their home/office or other user-specified locations), as well as enables users to manage their ad profile.
  • Purchasing from Ads
  • Digital barcodes on ads enable purchasing from ads. In embodiments, Ad Widge ads contain a novel type of IP-based digital barcode (hereafter “Net Dotz”) enabling, among other features, instant electronic purchase of the item. The IP address contains the location where more information about the item can be found. Ad barcodes are easily scannable by suitably-equipped mobile handsets (Mobis) for online or offline purchases of the ad item. In embodiments, scanning the digital barcode may return transactable tiles of information (hereafter “Tilz”) relating to the ad.
  • In embodiments Tilz function as a focused mini-Website pertaining to just the object from that ad, enabling (among other features) instant purchases of the ad item from both online and offline ads. In embodiments the user may be given a discount or paid a rebate for purchasing items directly from the ad, since it saves the product/service maker the expense of paying middlemen such as department stores to stock and sell the item. One advantage of having an IP-based digital barcode such as a Net Dotz on the ad, is that the vendor can feature the very latest pricing for the item, and even offer different pricing or discounts depending on who the shopper is. The user's reverse cookies, My Cookiez, may, at the user's option, provide the vendor the preference profile or other profiles of the user scanning the digital barcode on the ad. Furthermore Net Dotz digital barcodes are also electronic so users, for instance, watching TV or listening to the radio can “scan” the electronic digital barcode as they watch TV or listen to the radio, to download the associated data tile (Tilz) ad to their mobile handset, and effect the purchase therefrom.
  • In embodiments the user may scan the IP-based digital barcode with their mobile handset, and be able to complete the purchase transaction using their mobile handset via the Coupon Widge widget to transmit their credit card information or other payment modality information; or pay via a novel type of credits-based digital currency, iDough.
  • Time Limits
  • There can be time limits put on any of the user's ad profile list items. If a user just purchased tires, that user doesn't need to see tire ads for, say, 3 years. The Ad Widge widget can block tire ads for three years, and then start allowing/soliciting them 36 months later, depending upon tire need at that time.
  • Preview and Schedule Ads
  • Ad Widge enables users to preview ads. Using the AD FORMAT described below, advertisers can also include short, say 10 second long “trailers” for their full length 2 minute detailed product ads. If the recipient doesn't wish to view the ad based upon the preview, the user's negative rating for the preview is sent back to the advertisers. If the recipient wants to review the full length ad, the recipient has the option of scheduling the ad for any time/date, or even downloading the ad to the recipient's digital device of choice (mobile handset, PC, TV/set top box, DVR, et. al.) for later viewing at the recipient's convenience. Recipients can also choose to schedule ads via a plurality of manners including, but not limited to: never send again, send again but not for X hours/days/weeks/months/years and/or other options.
  • Other Profile Details
  • Users can choose to fill out as much or as little personal information about themselves in their ad profile. Users can choose to provide, or not, additional information that advertisers routinely seek out via means such as contest entry forms such as gender, age, income, zip code, hobbies, etc. The more information the user provides, the more robust their profile, which likely increases the value of the profile—and thus the amounts paid to the user by entities who pay to view/utilize the user's profile.
  • Instant Ads
  • Ad Widge is mobile digital-content format (Tilz) and tags/keywords compatible so, in embodiments, instant ads can appear, for instance, across the bottom of relevant, ad-enabled mobile documents (Tilz).
  • Anonymity
  • Users can choose to use an anonymous IP address supplied to them by Ad Widge to receive all their ads (via forwarding), without disclosing any personally identifiable information to the ad senders.
  • Privacy
  • Ad Widge addresses some online users' privacy concerns (that some major online advertising companies are starting to encounter) by putting users in charge of their own ad profile, including which information to disclose to advertisers. Ad Widge does not require users to make their ad profiles public. Users can keep their profiles private, and anonymously disclose to selected advertisers just those items they wish to receive ads about.
  • Security
  • In embodiments Ad Widge ads are presented in mobile digital-content format (Tilz), which assigns an unique digital serial number to each ad. In cases, for instance, where the user makes an in-ad purchase and/or pays for the transaction electronically (via mobile handset) a digital receipt is created detailing the serial number of each ad, and item(s) purchased, in that transaction.
  • Ad Format
  • In embodiments Ad Widge ads appear in an unique digital content format (Tilz) that is optimized for mobile handsets but is compatible with a plurality of devices (such as PC's, TV's/set top boxes, cell phones, etc.). This format, Tilz, has numerous features, however one interesting feature enables users to store any ads (if the advertiser allows) on their digital devices for playback at a later time. This unique format also allows ads to be placed in, around, under, alongside, etc. any digital file (document, video, song, TV show, etc.). Thus via Ad Widge, solicited ads can appear, at the user's request, in many new places other than where conventional art banner ads typically appear.
  • Digital Ad Formats
  • Ad Widge can present digital ads in a plurality of sizes, shapes and/or formats, particularly so when using the mobile digital-content format (Tilz). Some of the common ad formats Ad Widge can place ads in, without using mobile digital-content format (Tilz), are skins (e.g. wrap a movie ad around a video), bugs (e.g. a graphic of the item being advertised that slides onto the bottom of a video as it plays: the graphic offers viewers who click on it the ability to wirelessly receive ads/offers/information), and tickers (e.g. overlay ads which insert text or graphics like a ticker-tape at the bottom of a video).
  • Match My Offer
  • Match My Offer enables customers to accept bids from competing products to match or beat an offer amount. For example, an Ad Widge user receives a “2-for-1 Tide laundry detergent” offer, but just before they use it, selects the Match My Offer option on the Ad Widge widget, which then causes their mobile handset broadcast that offer and ask competing laundry detergent companies or other entities to match or beat that offer in the minutes/hours/days before the user purchases detergent. The Ad Widge Match My Offer offer is displayed on the Ad Widge Website (or other locations, such as the user's profile CloudCast) for all ad vendors' servers to monitor and issue realtime offers if they choose. In embodiments Ad Widge broadcasts the impending use of a coupon and solicits other coupons that match or beat it. Thereupon local vendors or the store itself or other entities may send a competing coupon to the user's mobile handset.
  • Paid Ads
  • Paid ads function in a fashion similar to paid search. In embodiments, users indicate in their profile that they are willing to let anyone send an ad—on any subject—if the sender pays the user (a user-set minimum amount). The user could then choose to add that ad to their Want or Don't Want ad profile. Users can create their own lists of ads they solicit, but for those users who opt-in to the Paid Ad option in their Ad Widge profile, they are indicating to ad vendors that they are willing to receive ads from any vendor on either a Selected List of items, or All Items. That is to say, the user will still receive ads for those items they specifically listed in their Ad Widge profile, but also are open to receiving ads from competing vendors. So for instance if they indicated they want Tide laundry detergent ads in their Ad Widge profile, but are open to Paid Ads, then vendors such as Cheer laundry detergent can pay the user for the privilege of sending an ad for Cheer (in the hopes of causing that consumer to try their product instead of what the consumer usually uses). Users are incentivized to use receive paid ads because they may be paid more than the usual fee they receive for receiving ads. The ad sender may ask if the user liked the ad (or just be informed whether the user added the ad to the user's profile). Ad senders may even conduct mini market research this way.
  • Related and Unrelated Ads
  • Ad Widge offers users the option of receiving ads for products or services related to those which they already indicated an interest in. If the user elects the Related Ads option, then each time an ad is sent to the user, that is related to any of their areas of interest the user specifically elected for Related Offers, a window (Tilz) pops up and ask if the user if they would like to view a related ad.
  • Unrelated Ads function in a fashion similar to Related Ads but apply to products/services/etc. unrelated to an ad the user received. Unrelated Ad users can opt to add restrictions on the Unrelated Ad pertaining to which device (mobile handset, TV, PC, etc.) the ad is to be sent to, including time of day and day of week restrictions.
  • Users are incentivized (by the fees they potentially stand to receive) to be open to receiving ads from vendors they have not previously specifically allowed.
  • For example, if the user was in the market for laundry detergent, and was leaning toward purchasing Tide detergent, an ad for Tide laundry detergent would appear in the center tile of the data tile sphere navigation facility (Spherez). Then laundry detergents with similar characteristics (tags) would appear in the tiles around the Tide laundry detergent center tile, so that competitors who also have laundry detergent can also present the user their ads. Ad Widge calls these Piggy Back Ads. The user may spin the data tile navigation sphere (Spherez) using finger flicking motions (on a touch-screen capable digital device) to see more related/unrelated results.
  • Sponsored Ads
  • Sponsored Ads are ads that advertisers directly send to users, irrespective of whether the ad meets that user's solicited-ad categories list. Users must first choose to allow (explicitly opt-in) to receive such sponsored ads. For instance, if a user is watching a TV show such as “Cheers” and that episode is sponsored by Starbuck's Coffee, then Starbuck's Coffee can send ads/offers/information/et. al. to all those in the viewing audience who allow such sponsored ads.
  • Unique “Missed Demand” Tracking Capability
  • Ad Widge can provide retailers with information they have never been able to track before: Missed Demand. Missed Demand is defined herein to mean when there are no more left of a particular item on a retailer's shelf, but consumers come to that shelf hoping to purchase that particular out-of-stock (or simply empty-shelf) item. For example, let's say a consumer goes to a grocery store to purchase 2 liter Diet Coke. When the consumer gets to the shelf it is empty. As per the conventional art the store would have no way of knowing how many additional bottles of Diet Coke they could have sold (and thus should have ordered for that store) had their supply exactly equaled demand. Ad Widge could sell this Missed Sales or Missed Demand information to retailers (and split this income with each consumer who helped provide the Missed Sales data). Employing Ad Widge, the store may have the barcode/RFID tag on the edge (or end cap) of the shelf where the Diet Coke sits. If the shelf is empty when the consumer arrives, the consumer simply scans the Diet Coke barcode/RFID. A message is instantly sent to the consumer's mobile handset via Ad Widge asking how many 2 liter Diet Cokes they would have purchased if they were in stock. Once the consumer has indicated the number of missed items they would have purchased, a Rain Check may be sent to the consumer's mobile handset via Ad Widge for the number of Diet Cokes sought. (This Rain Check could be set to expire, say in one week, or any other vendor selectable timeframe.) Everyone wins: the consumer gets a rain check, the grocery store gets the missed demand information sent along with that consumer's shopping club profile information (if they have one), and Coca Cola also gets the data about Missed Sales (to determine store by store sales efficiencies).
  • This “missed demand” data is valuable information that the store (or other entity) may remunerate the consumer for, and the manufacturer may pay consumers for indicating would-be purchase data. Not only that, but stores and manufacturers get this data in realtime. Analytics they've never had available before.
  • To further clarify the above and other advantages and features of the present Invention, more particular descriptions of the Invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are, in some cases, illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings and descriptions depict only typical embodiments of the Invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The Invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail via the following applications and use cases.
  • Local Advertising
  • Unlike conventional art local advertising, local advertising using Ad Widge send ads to recipients who wish to receive such ads. For example, a neighborhood ice cream shop using Ad Widge could be wirelessly broadcasting (in a one block radius) an ad for their premium ice cream. Instead of this ad spamming all mobile handset users within their broadcast radius, only those mobile handset users who wish to receive ice cream ads, as per their Ad Widge profile, will receive the ad on their mobile handset. Or as a user walks past a yogurt shop, the yogurt shop can entice the user with an offer if the user's profile is open to receiving such offers. Or the pizza parlor can be broadcasting (in a five mile radius) ads highlighting their unique pies, to attract users to their pizza place rather than their competitors. Again, only those users within that radius (who solicited pizza ads) will receive ads on their mobile handset (or other digital device the user designates in their ad profile).
  • Location Based Advertising
  • Ad Widge enables both ad senders and ad recipients to create profiles that set geographic limits for the scope of ads sent/received (again with an eye toward most users of the Invention utilizing their mobile handset to receive their solicited ads). Utilizing the mobile handset's location determining facility, ad senders, using the Ad Widge, will know when a potential customer, that explicitly wants to know more about their product/service, is within a certain distance from their establishment.
  • This distance may differ for different types of establishments. For a restaurant which has not yet filled out its 6 PM dinner service, the revenue lost by unfilled seats at the 6 PM seating is lost forever, but they don't have time to attract customers who are more than a few miles away. Thus the restaurant will want to send out ads in a radius whereby users could get there in time for the 6 PM seating. So they might broadcast, for instance, via the Internet a location-limited ad, which offers a very local and very timely ad regarding that night's 6 PM dinner service. Ad Widge's location-based advertising also determines if a user is traveling to another city, and businesses in that city can pay the user to accept ads prior to (or upon) the user's arrival in that city.
  • Instead of bombarding users with ads as they near various restaurants, users solicit, via their ComCloud profile broadcast, ads only for, say, That restaurants, or only for restaurants under $25/person.
  • Timely Advertising
  • Ad Widge enables both ad senders and ad recipients to create profiles that set time/date limits for ads sent/received (again with an eye toward most users of the Ad Widge using their mobile handset to receive their solicited ads). For example, it's morning in London: there are a number of plays happening tonight, however not all are sold out. Most patrons/visitors know they can go to the last-minute-tickets booth near the theaters (such as TKTS, which sell discount day-of-performance tickets); however some cannot make it to the booth, but would like to purchase a last minute, discounted ticket. So the users add London theater tickets to their Ad Widge profile, and elect to permit last minute ads.
  • In embodiments the TKTS booth can send out via the Internet an ad for tonight's plays, with a price equivalent to that which patrons could receive if they had the time to show up at the ticket booth. In embodiments a user is made aware of the ad via the users Ad Widge widget on the user's mobile handset. Tickets may be purchased directly via the Ad Widge ad, or online (or other means) from a user's mobile handset via several modalities, including several proprietary methods (such as iDough, Pay by Widge, and Motran).
  • Alternatively, for those with the TKTS widget/ParaSite/Tilz, that widget/ParaSite/Tilz can query the user's Ad Widge profile to detect interest in receiving certain promotions. And the user's Ad Widge profile can be informed by the user's calendar. Are they free this evening? Because a user's Ad Widge profile is on their mobile handset (Mobi), it can interact with the widget in the background. Or even send Ad Widge profile elements (Tilz) to the TKTS main central server, to solicit discount tickets.
  • Product Endorsements
  • Athletes (or other endorsing persons) often take the highest dollar offer amongst competing endorsement deals. Product endorsements, via Ad Widge, can be more closely tied to results. For example, athletes can be paid $1 for each athlete Product Profile Tilz requested, and $4 for each product purchased (via that Tilz). If a customer returns the product, then the $4 sales commission is clawed back. For instance, a user sees a commercial on TV for Air Jordan sneakers. That user then requests the Tilz for Air Jordans. And how long that Tilz is kept on the user's mobile device (Mobi) and how many times they view that Tilz determines whether the athlete receive the full $1 product information commission, or just a fraction of that amount. Ad Widge thereby creates a method to tie the effectiveness of a marketing campaign to actual user interest and actual user purchases.
  • Corporate Uses
  • Corporate uses include the ability to solicit product information (ads) from various suppliers, and for those suppliers to offer discounts. These solicitations can be blind (each supplier only sees the solicitation from the sender, or they can be public (like a reverse auction) so that when a sender requests best prices, say for 500 two by fours, local lumber yards could choose to bid or not, after seeing what other local lumber yards were bidding.
  • Corporate Brand Elements
  • Tilz allow for branded elements to be embedded in them. For example, a document template might have a coporate logo included on it, in exhange for free use of the document template. In such a case, users, via Ad Widge could click on the corporate brand element to solicit an ad related thereto.
  • Small Business Owners
  • For a small business owners such as a local restaurant, marketing efficiency is important. Thus its important to identify users who are likely customers of that type of restaurant, and not spend marketing dollars reaching people who don't like that type of food. For example, for an Indian food restaurant, it may be difficult via conventional means to limit marketing expenses to just those users who like Indian food. With Ad Widge, users may have a restaurant profile which lists all the restaurants the user has dined at. Reviewing restaurant profiles, then being able to reach just those desired users (such as those who have dined at Indian restauarants on more than one occasion, or those who do so more than X times per year) is a powerful advantage that Ad Widge delivers.
  • Custom Versions of Ads
  • Advertisers can create a plurality of customized versions of each ad. For example, for a tire ad, the advertiser might create a version of the ad that appeals to men, another version that appeals to women, and another version that appeals to teenagers who may be future tire customers. In addition, there may be different forms of the ad for all destination formats: “junk mail” delivered to a recipient's home, radio ads, television/set top box ads, website banner ads, and advertising on mobile handsets. Furthermore ads can also be further customized, within each of the destination formats, by the way various people like to receive their information: all text with lots of facts, or visually via a TV ad that explains how a user would feel when using the product, etc. (as per the recipient's preferences profile).
  • As per the conventional art advertisers struggle with how to produce a single ad slogan that appeals to all recipients; when what they might like to do is break down their customers into different groups, and market to each group in a different way. For example, a television commercial for a tire can be the same for all recipients, but using the Invention, the voice-over messaging can be different for the three or four types of users the tire company has identified they have—said messaging delivered to differing users who broadcast their Ad Widge profile to the ad-sending entity.
  • Third Party Profile Integration
  • Ad Widge may import, for instance, TV viewing data from their digital video recorder (DVR) or grocery store club card data, to enhance a user's Ad Widge profile. This imported data may be made available via Ad Widge to advertisers or market research firms, who may in turn, via Ad Widge or otherwise, send ads based upon the user's thusly enhanced Ad Widge profile.
  • Digital Ad Booklets
  • In embodiments Ad Widge can eliminate the millions of paper ad booklets some stores print up and stuff in users' bags at checkout as follows: Users scan the barcode of the proto-booklet available at each point-of-sale (POS) register and aisle caps; The (user profile-sifted) ads for that booklet are transmitted into the user's mobile handset in Tilz format. If the store utilizes certain smart labels for its products, they may have RFID tags built in which can interact with the user's profile as the user walks near the item. Ad Widge can limit the ads sent to the user to just those ad types the user solicited in their Ad Widge profile—so as not to be annoyed by hundreds of ads as the user roams the store's aisles.
  • In embodiments Ad Widge digital ad booklets can be electronically available in many languages as follows: Whenever a user receives a digital ad book, it can be presented via Ad Widge in the user's native language as per the user's preference profile, as opposed to printed booklets which are usually only available, say, in English, due to cost constraints of printing in multiple languages. This feature may be helpful to persons traveling to a foreign country who want information in their native language about the store's products and services.
  • Captive Advertising
  • In embodiments Ad Widge informs captive audience display screens. For example, when a user steps into an elevator or is at a gas station pump featuring an advertising screen, the user's mobile handset may broadcast the user's Ad Widge profile ads may be displayed that the user has solicited. Users can opt to receive additional information that relate to those products/services being advertised. Or the user may scan the barcode/RFID directly from the ad on the screen to receive the information Tilz. In emerging-market countries with limited Internet access, providing a place where users update their profiles/Tilz at a captive location (which might be one of the few places in town which has Internet access) may be crucial.
  • Request More Information About Ads/Shows/Movies Seen on TV
  • Users watching television who see an advertisement for a product they would like more information about can wirelessly submit a Request For Information (RFI) to the product manufacturer via Ad Widge. The response to this RFI can be to send, via Ad Widge, the user an ad, or a brochure in the mail or e-brochure, etc. according to the requester's preference profile (Web Pref). In embodiments the user interacts with the TV via the use of a widget (Tube Widge) that completes a Bluetooth or WiFi or similar handshake and information exchange between the user's mobile handset and the user's TV via means such as the user's DVR, set top box, etc. Identification of the proper ad or show or movie that the user desires more information about is possible for those ads/shows/movies encoded with a digital IP address (IPv21#) or digital barcode (Net Dotz).
  • Patient or Client Communiqués
  • Doctors, for instance, can, via Ad Widge, send informational ads about procedures or tests that the doctor thinks that patient should consider undergoing. Consultants or any vendor with clients can send ads to their existing client base seeking to entice them into purchasing additional products or services. For instance, personal shoppers at fine department stores often keep customer database lists of hundreds or thousands of names. Personal shoppers could send ads with pictures or videos of outfits or accessories that are on sale or would particularly suit a given client demographic, as per users' Ad Widge profiles.
  • New Customer Follow Up
  • The week after a customer makes their first purchase in a store (online or offline) is one of the best times to market to that customer. Retailers, as per users' Ad Widge profile, could send ads to that user's mobile handset in the days following that first purchase to attempt to entice the customer to come back and purchase more of that store's products.
  • Multi Ads
  • Multi ads refers to different ads for different users all watching the same show. For example, four users are sitting on a couch watching the same TV show. During commercial breaks, different commercials are delivered (via means such as WiFi or Bluetooth or other) to each user's mobile handset whereupon they each watch different ads, or different, customized versions of the same/similar ads. Then when the commercial break is over, users return to all watching the same content on the TV.
  • The present Invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the Invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims in addition to all foregoing descriptions. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims and foregoing descriptions are to be embraced within their scope.
  • The Wireless Location-Establishing Device Provides a Platform for Interactive, Multimedia Customized, User-Solicited Coupons
  • A system, method, service and platform for providing interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited coupons are disclosed; which, for example, enable advertisers to better target interested recipients. Via a plurality of means, users create profiles of the objects they utilize in their life. The resultant profile(s) is then made available by the present Invention (“Coupon Widge”) to entities such as those which manufacture or sell said objects. Those entities pay the user to view the user's coupon profile, whereupon said entities make a determination whether or not to pay the user again to send coupons or other information, as per each user's preferences and profiles.
  • Up until now (2002), coupon distribution, usage, redemption, backend accounting, and reimbursement has been inefficient, scattershot, and wasteful of the various resources involved; not to mention a tedious user experience.
  • The present invention (hereafter “Coupon Widge”), is conceived as a response to the above-described deficiencies of the conventional art. With Coupon Widge, the industry shifts to profile-based, digital coupons.
  • Users create profiles of everything in their life. And based upon the facts in those profiles, advertisers/marketers make informed decisions, fact-informed decisions, about getting their coupons, messages (and other data) to customers and potential customers. Coupon Widge's technology enables users to receive just those coupons they want, and get paid to do so.
  • These profiles indicate not only those items the user would like coupons for, but also how, when and where. Coupon Widge enables a number of innovative advertising modalities including: local advertising, location-based advertising, timely advertising, contextual coupons, blended coupons, interest category coupons, behavioral coupons, affinity coupons, intramedia/intrastitial coupons, self-aggregating group coupons, realtime competitive coupons, et. al.
  • Further, Coupon Widge, disintermediates (some) middlemen in the advertising/marketing process; putting advertisers/marketers (often the manufacturer or retailer of a product) in direct one-to-one contact with customers and potential customers. Thus, monies that erstwhile went to middlemen which created profiles of users based upon guesses, can be re-directed to users, who create and surface their fact-based profiles directly to advertising/marketing entities, and are thereby potentially paid to receive information, coupons, offers, and other data.
  • Via a plurality of means, users are in control of the information they receive, including coupons/offers/etc. Coupon Widge is a shield, against information overload.
  • The vast majority of coupons today are unsolicited and irrelevant to the recipient. Accordingly, an improved method of couponing is desirable. Interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited coupons—the present Invention—enables advertisers/marketers to better target interested coupon recipients. And for recipients, the avalanche of paper coupons and online coupons is reduced to a focused stream of coupons for just those products and services recipients are interested in receiving discounts for or more information about.
  • Both coupon issuers and coupon recipients are losers in current couponing modalities. Coupon issuers waste billions of dollars each year sending coupons to recipients with no interest in those coupons. Around 300 billion coupons are issued in the U.S. each year, and almost 1 trillion worldwide.
  • The cost to coupon issuers is anywhere from 1 to 5 cents per coupon (depending upon many factors including volume) to author, design, print, ship, handle and redeem. 99% of this more than $10 billion spent each year is wasted on coupons tossed in the trash or otherwise unredeemed. Accordingly an improved method for delivering and utilizing coupons is desirable.
  • Through the use of digital coupons, the labor-intensive hand-processing of coupon clearing can be reduced or eliminated. And Coupon Widge disintermediates the wasteful middleman-step in the coupon redemption process. Coupon Widge was informed by the transition to the new computing platform, the mobile device (Mobi). For many countries (such as India), digital coupons, especially those delivered to mobile devices, are the best way to reach consumers. Mobile device penetration is higher than for TV or (hardline) Internet. And in India's case there are hundreds of language dialects—a problem much more easily addressed via digital mobile coupons.
  • When Coupon Widge was invented in 2002, mobile, location-based digital couponing was unheard of. Conventional art couponing solutions are mainly focused on the coupon sender rather than the coupon receiver. Users don't want every possible coupon available, they want only those offers as per their profile. In embodiments, user-solicited coupons appear on the user's handset (Mobi) from entities the user wants discounts from. In embodiments, a user's Coupon Widge profile is continuously CloudCast, blocking unwanted coupons and getting paid to accept desired coupons. Rebates, are an ex post facto form of a coupon, and thus are requested and delivered via Coupon Widge. And Coupon Widge does the work of tracking those rebates that often take many weeks to arrive. In embodiments, coupons are electronically delivered to users as per their Coupon Widge profile, thus reducing the unnecessary expense of the billion of coupons printed in newspapers, and Value Packs, and at stores, etc.
  • With Coupon Widge coupons can be multimedia, such as animated characters, or even favorite cartoon or movie characters. Coupons can speak their message: “Today we're featuring 50 cents off Alpo dog food” and can be in the licensed voice of a, say, a movie star. No longer are coupons just a boring slip of paper with a barcode on it.
  • Ads vs Coupons
  • In embodiments, ads are a means of providing consumers more information about the features and benefits of various competing products/services that recipients are deciding among for a future purchase; whereas coupons are a specific financial discount for items that recipients already regularly purchase (and thus typically don't contain product features/benefits information).
  • The Invention is enabled by the current and forthcoming digital technologies such as the Internet, the ever more present digital (and HD) radio, and the proposed digital television broadcasting. It is also enabled by ever more capable mobile handsets—which are defined vis a vis the present Invention, as cellphone-like devices, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA) or other devices/embodiments other than a personal computer (PC) or laptop, that don't necessarily require a monthly contract from a wireless carrier to be a useful device. Those skilled in the art will appreciate, however, that a user may utilize other digital devices that are similar to or different from a mobile handset, featuring wireless carrier service or not; Such devices are consistent with the principles of the Invention, and are thusly encompassed herein by inference.
  • Of the people who don't currently use paper coupons, many don't use them because of the hassle of having to cut them out and carry them around to be available at the time of purchase. Hence the need for digital coupons, and more so, for conveniently delivered digital coupons—say, to the user's mobile handset, which will be with many users during most coupon redemptions.
  • Though in embodiments Coupon Widge can be used by anyone with a computing device and Internet access, it is aimed at users of mobile handsets—and many users may exclusively use their mobile handset to engage and utilize Coupon Widge. Of course, other users may simply utilize other computing devices (or even televisions or other things) that are different from mobile handsets.
  • According to the current coupon process, at plants filled with barcode scanners and sorting machines, coupon processing companies go through the coupons. They then send a bill to each coupon issuer—usually with the coupons attached—seeking reimbursement for the coupons' face value, plus shipping and handling fees. Payments vary. For a 50-cent coupon, the supermarket gets 50 cents back from the manufacturer, and usually a few cents more. That money is split with the processor.
  • Coupon issuers currently pay over $150 million per year to coupon processing companies. For years, coupon processors have run plants in Mexico, so they can hire low-cost labor needed to sort through all the coupons.
  • Coupon issuers and retailers often disagree on reimbursement. Coupon issuers will deny payments arguing, for example, that an offer had expired or that goods weren't sold in the area where the coupon was supposedly redeemed.
  • User-solicited, digital coupons address the shortcomings of the current coupon process.
  • Digital coupons reduce the two most common reasons coupon issuers refuse to reimburse retailers for coupons: the offer had expired—using digital coupons eliminates this problem at the time of redemption by verifying that the coupon has not expired; and the goods weren't sold in the area where the coupon was redeemed—digital coupons presented at the time of the transaction could only be utilized for products that were actually for sale in that area.
  • Before the Internet and the digital media revolution, coupon issuance was a one-way communication. For decades, coupon issuers simply foisted their coupons via junk mail and newspaper inserts on millions of recipients hoping for something like 1% of the recipients to actually be interested enough in the coupon to take action to purchase that product or service being advertised.
  • Increasingly so, recipients are being bombarded not only by junk mail and newspaper insert coupons, but also by online coupons. And the avalanche of coupons is just about to skyrocket as social network advertising (on MySpace, etc.) and mobile handset advertising emerges. Recipients will hardly be able to go for more than a few minutes of their day without being assaulted by unwanted and irrelevant ads/coupons. Additionally, users are becoming increasingly concerned about their privacy, as some of a user's online actions are resulting in so-called targeted ads/coupons. And conventional art “targeted advertising” is evermore intrusive.
  • Unfortunately other advertisers continue to deliver ads/coupons as if the Internet and digital revolution has not taken place. Some offline advertisers use information about ad/coupon recipients gathered from entry forms for contests and warranty postcards. Direct marketing companies create numerous mailing lists based on these keywords or whether someone bought from a particular catalog before. Then for the next 5-10 years users received junk mail (and other forms of ads/coupons) based upon this incomplete, out of date, and often inaccurate profile.
  • Feedback about the relevance/usefulness of coupons was not practical—but it is today. Prior to the Internet there wasn't a cost effective way for people to build their own ad/coupon profile and communicate it directly to marketers (or today's search engines seeking to serve up ads/coupons). But there is today. Yet most marketers ignore this fact, and continue to bombard users with ads/coupons based upon 50 year old marketing techniques.
  • The Internet, mobile handsets, digital radio, and the forthcoming digital television now enable coupon issuers to inexpensively target individual recipients via simple, practical means. It would be preferable for users to give feedback about coupon relevancy. It would also be preferable for users to create their own profiles, either explicitly (by filling out profile checklists) or implicitly (by means such as barcode scanning or RFID interrogation of the objects users utilize in their life—profiles which can be created while online or offline). Coupons can thereby be tied to a user's expressed interests and purchase history, automatically.
  • It would be much better, for example, if marketers had a list of people who have actively indicated an interest in receiving tire coupons. Advertisers could target that much smaller subset of people who are interested in receiving, say, tire coupons, and not annoy potential future customers who don't want to receive tire coupons right now. Instead of marketers bombarding millions of recipients with billions of coupons (a shotgun approach), recipients can, via the Invention, be in charge of the coupons they receive by requesting just those coupons they are interested in (a rifle approach). Various technologies have now evolved to the point where it is simple and practical for couponing, for the first time, to become a two-way ongoing communication between coupon issuer and recipient.
  • Coupon Widge is interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited coupons. When users solicit coupons/information, advertising/couponing entities can shift their focus from the marketing-driven hype of the conventional art, to becoming more effective information delivery vehicles, for users who are actively seeking a discount/information vis a vis a purchase (decision).
  • Interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited coupons enable advertisers to better target interested coupon recipients. Instead of users being bombarded with random coupons, users can, for instance, scan the barcodes/RFID of the items they use in their everyday life to automatically build a profile of items they could really use coupons for.
  • As used herein in connection with the coupons associated with the plurality of embodiments of the Invention, the following terms are defined as:
  • Interactive: users solicit and receive additional information on the item in real-time, as well as rate the relevance/usefulness of that coupon to that user.
    Multimedia: coupons can be digital and/or physical, and digital can include pictures or video (or other things).
    Customized: coupons appear in a format according to the user's preferences, and can offer different discounts and coupon appearances to different users.
    User-solicited: users surface profiles of items for which discounts may be desired, to various coupon-issuing entities, and thereby inform coupons they receive.
    Coupons: coupons, offers, information and other data/content are all encompassed by the term coupon. Rebates are considered to be a form of ex post facto coupons, thus rebates are implicitly included in the Invention.
  • Reference herein to the word “advertisers” shall be understood to encompass advertising, marketing, and/or related/similar entities.
  • The present Invention is described in one or more embodiments in the following description with references to the Figures. While the Invention is described in terms of the primary modes for achieving the Invention's objectives, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that it is intended to cover alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the Invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents as supported by the disclosures and drawings herein.
  • A primary purpose of the system, method, service and platform for providing interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited coupons described herein is to reduce inefficiency vis a vis advertising and marketing in general, and more specifically via a vis coupons. The disclosed system, method, service and platform also enable coupon recipients to exert control over and manage the information that is marketed or otherwise sent thereto.
  • Although various embodiments of the Invention extend to any system that operates in accordance with the principles described herein, one embodiment is described in the context of a Website, server software, and widget (Webified mini-software application) that is collectively referred to herein as “Coupon Widge.”
  • According to this embodiment of Coupon Widge, the Website, server software, and widget enable users to create lists/profiles of things they'd like to receive coupons for. Users indicate via a preference profile (Web Pref) the way they'd like their coupons presented (e.g. text-based details, or visually-oriented, on their mobile handset or in the postal mail, etc.) The checkmark list (or profile), among other embodiments, can be created manually or by using their mobile handset to scan barcodes (Net Dotz) of products as they use them, or scan the barcodes of items they come across in stores, on Websites, in TV ads (or other places). Product/service vendors then send users coupons according to user coupon profiles. In addition users may engage in social/business networking with other users via profiles, blogs, chat rooms, and message boards
  • In embodiments Coupon Widge is a software widget that resides on various digital devices (particularly mobile handsets), and enables stores, merchants, service providers, etc. to send coupons and rebates to a user's digital device, based upon the desired-coupon profile set up by the user. Via a plurality of means, including the Coupon Widge Website or directly on the users' digital device via the Coupon Widge widget (downloadable Webified mini software application) users create an electronic profile of the coupons they would like to receive. Advertisers can, if the user's profile allows, view the profile of items for which the user would like to receive coupons. Advertisers then deliver the coupons to the user (customized) as per the user's coupon profile.
  • This profile indicates not only those items the user would like to receive coupons for (e.g. tennis gear, car tires, organic breakfast cereals, etc.) but also how, when, and where the user would like to receive the information. For example a text message on the user's mobile handset, or during a 3 minute detailed advertisement on the user's television between 6 and 8 pm, or a brochure mailed to the user's home. Or users could choose to receive all their coupons digitally on their mobile handset (or other device), which can be used for redemption at the point of purchase, wherein, in some embodiments, the mobile handset (or other device) serves as the payment vehicle as per a variety of modalities.
  • Via their Coupon Widge profile users may also elect to allow coupons from competitors of products in their Coupon Profile—competitors pay the user for the right to try to entice them to switch products (in embodiments via modalities such as realtime bidding). After all it is the users time and money that is sought: The user's time, to review the info/coupons/offers/etc.; and ultimately it is the user's money that is sought by the advertiser/marketer (often to purchase the advertiser's/marketer's product/service).
  • Advertisers/marketers already pay, to get their coupons/offers/information/etc. to users—they pay middlemen such as search engines, Internet tracking companies, and/or market research firms, et. al. With Coupon Widge, users and potential users make their interest in more information about a product known via their profile broadcast, without need for middlemen to guess which users might be interested in an advertiser's coupons/offers/information/et. al. Thus advertisers can save those monies paid to get their messaging to users who weren't interested in receiving it, and further redirect monies that were paid to middlemen to guess which users want which coupons/offers/information/et. al.; instead, potentially paying fees to users directly, in exchange for the value the user provided in surfacing their profile.
  • In those instances where payments are non-zero, users can further control the amount of coupons/offers/information/et. al. they receive, by setting a minimum fee to receive, read and review the coupons/offers/information/et. al. That is to say, the senders of such material must pay the user an amount equal to or exceeding the user's minimum fee to even send the user such material.
  • FIG. 23 illustrates one of the Invention's most important principles: profiles=currency. Coupon Widge simplifies and automates the process whereby users create, manage and monetize their profiles. And these profiles have value. There are many companies, for instance, which would pay, literally, to view a user's profiles 2202.
  • Consider a case where all users create and broadcast all their profiles 2202 to all the appropriate entities at all times. Then, for example, the local movie theater could simply view the movie profiles 2205 of all movie goers in say a 20 mile radius of the movie theater, when making decisions such as which movies to acquire the rights to show in their theater. Such profile-based, fact-based decision making is far superior to the so-called analytics programs which harvest vast amounts of information, and apply complex algorithms, in the hopes of teasing out a few valuable (accurate) nuggets of information. And ad-sending entities pay a great deal of money for such information, weak though it may be, gleaned via such means.
  • That's why user's fact-based profiles are so valuable to so many entities. In practice, for example, a user reading the Sunday paper, and scanning an ad for a movie they'd like to see may get paid 2022, via Coupon Widge, almost instantaneously by entities 2107 such as those that can provide the movie to the user 2108-2113 and coupons/offers/information/et. al. related thereto. Scan the ad, and shortly thereafter, the user gets paid. Perhaps only a few pennies (or even fractions thereof) in some embodiments, but the tectonic shift in the advertising landscape may be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
  • Users create a profile of coupons they are willing to receive, primarily through barcode/RFID scanning of products they utilize (as well as by other means). Alternatively users can indicate they are willing to let any entity send a coupon—on any subject—if the sender pays the user (a minimum price set by the user). Each user can set their own prices to receive coupons. Users also decide if they want to get paid by advertisers or market research firms (or other entities) to view the user's Coupon Widge profile. Cumulative totals and/or frequency of various items purchased is valuable information that the user's profile contains. And beyond just frequency information, there is specific purchase information. For example, a user's profile might indicate a user purchased grated Parmesan cheese 18 times in the past year. But beyond that is much more granular information such as: What sizes of bags (8 ounce or jumbo 32 ounce)? Which brands? Re-sealable pouches or vacuum packed bags? Which stores were they purchased at? What payment modalities were utilized? et. al. The user gets paid by market research companies and manufacturers (and other entities) to view the user's Coupon Widge profile which contains such valuable detailed information.
  • Coupon Widge delivers solutions for both paper and electronic coupons. Paper coupons' barcodes can be scanned thus enabling the user, via Coupon Widge, to automatically receive that coupon's discount at checkout, including when paying via mobile device (Mobi). Users can also scan items while shopping in a store, and if their Coupon Widge profile allows, receive instant electronic coupons for those products or even competing products. Coupon Widge enables a two-way ongoing communication and relationship between coupon issuer and user.
  • The Invention's interests are aligned with users. Coupon Widge only gets paid, when users get paid 2303, 2304. Unlike traditional companies, such as leading search companies, which in many cases get paid, even when neither party to a transaction (buyer and seller) are happy with the value received. Traditional middlemen, such as leading search companies, add to the cost of goods (collecting, say, $30 on “refrigerator” searches, during the 10 years a user owns a fridge, happens to do searches on fridges, but isn't at the time in the market for a refrigerator). Ultimately, search companies drives up users' costs twice: 1) the cost of goods that the user eventually pays for is $30 higher; and 2) privacy costs, as entities such as leading search companies spy on users, to obtain the data used as fodder for their algorithmic guesses as to what a user might actually be in the market for.
  • An unique advantage of Coupon Widge is that coupons/offers/information/et. al. sent to users are based upon the best, most accurate and most comprehensive profiles available—those maintained by the users themselves. Any profile created by a third party is inferior to a user-created and managed profile; because, ipso facto, the only witness, for example, to every single movie a user consumes, by any and all modalities, is the user himself. If a user's movie profile is maintained by a third party such as the user's television service provider, the television service provider only bears witness to those movies the user consumes via the television service provider. Therefore, anytime the user consumes a movie, not via the user's television service provider, the television service provider's movie profile for that user becomes a bit less accurate, a bit less comprehensive and therefore a bit less valuable.
  • The same is true for other third parties which base their advertising systems upon profiles that third parties create of users; such third party profiles are less accurate, less comprehensive and less valuable, than profiles created by users themselves. This is a crucial point: all other forms of advertising prior to the present Invention, rely in some form or another on third party profiles of users. Thus all prior forms of advertising are inferior to Coupon Widge's system and method wherein users create, and manage, and monetize their profiles.
  • Therefore in preference to flooding recipients with a plethora of coupons, which are often of interest to only a tiny fraction of recipients, users create profiles of everything that matters to them. Said profiles are selectively, as per users' preferences, surfaced to coupon-sending entities by Coupon Widge. Coupon-sending entities (may) pay the user to review the relevant profiles, and thereby determine if they wish to send coupons/offers/information/et. al. to the user, and if so, coupon-sending entities (may) pay the user again for the user's time to review same.
  • Coupon-sending entities can, likewise, create profiles of their own via Coupon Widge (or otherwise). For instance, their profile might be of each of the products they manufacture, stores that retail those products, and entities that perform repairs, technical support and/or related services for said products. Once these profiles are created, coupon-sending entities can engage the Invention service which automatically matches their product profiles with those users seeking more information, possibly including coupons, about that same, or similar, product.
  • Once a profile match has been effected, coupon-sending entities then review, either manually with live personnel, or via a computer-based system which might employ various algorithmic facilities, a user's preference profile which includes preferences as to how, when and where a user would like to receive any coupons/offers/information/et. al. and a fee schedule detailing the minimum prices (which might be zero) a user is willing to accept, to receive said coupons/offers/information/et. al.
  • If the coupon-sending entity determines it is advantageous to proceed, coupons/offers/information/et. al. are delivered by the company itself, third parties, or via Coupon Widge.
  • In embodiments, Coupon Widge coupons are delivered via Tilz (data tiles), which are transactable objects, and therefore enable users to purchase directly from the coupons, even offline coupons. For offline coupons, users scan the (Net Dotz Internet Protocol IP) barcodes, which, in embodiments, results in coupon Tilz being downloaded to the user's mobile device. Tilz are transactable objects which enables the user to make purchases therefrom. The user's Coupon Widge profile includes user-selectable options, such as the ability for users to choose to allow coupons from competing products. For example, if a user utilizes Tide detergent, then the user has the Tide Tilz in their Coupon Widge profile. If they allow coupons from competing products, such as in this case Cheer detergent, then Cheer detergent is allowed to pay the user to send coupons. Competitors pay the user for the right to entice them to switch products.
  • Coupon Widge is simple to use for product and service providers. In embodiments, they just post all forms and variations of their coupon, and Coupon Widge pulls the appropriate Tilz to each user. So for instance, Coupon Widge can facilitate the placement or population of the coupons (Tilz) the user sees/receives when watching TV, or in their (digital) newspaper or magazine (or other).
  • The Invention employs and incorporates many unique technologies, such as the ability to incorporate video into digital coupons, wirelessly redeem a digital or paper coupon during a payment transaction, purchase the product/item directly from the coupon—even offline coupons—and facilitate realtime auctions for competitive coupons to those which the user is in the act of utilizing (such as at a bricks and mortar store or while shopping online), as per the detailed descriptions below.
  • Having generally described operation of the systems and methods for profile based coupons, various embodiments will be described with respect to FIGS. 20-29. Referring to the accompanying drawings wherein the same reference numerals refer to the same or similar elements:
  • FIG. 20 shows an exemplifying architecture of an embodiment of an interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited coupons system, method, service, and platform in accordance with the Invention which is designated generally as system 2000.
  • System 2000, hereafter “Coupon Widge,” represents an embodiment of the system, method, service and platform by which a user creates profiles of things, which in turn inform the coupons, offers, information and other data the user receives regarding same. The nucleus of the Coupon Widge platform centers around client and server software 2014, but which more generally consists of a plurality of computer applications, devices, components, facilities, and systems, as well as a plurality of data facilities, including various data sources and data acquisition facilities. The foregoing may be centrally located or geographically dispersed, may be locally and/or remotely interconnected, and may consist of distinct components or be integrated into combined systems. In the illustrated embodiment, the Coupon Widge platform 2000 architecture facilitates the processing of user-initiated queries entered into a query entry system functioning in conjunction, for example, with a barcode reading facility 2003 on the user's 2001 mobile device 2002. The mobile device may process the results of this query locally via client software, or transmit the results of this query to a remote server software system 2014 for further processing and/or routing to data sources and/or processing facilities, such as one or more servers, such as HTTP servers or other servers that are suitable for handling data that are transmitted over computer networks.
  • In embodiments, a plurality of profile acquisition facilities are available including barcode scanning facility 2003 (which may include a laser-based barcode scanner or other barcode scanning means), RFID interrogator facility 2004, network or Internet-based facilities 2005, peer-to-peer facilities 2006, among other profile acquisition modalities 2007. Profiles consist of tiles (or other units) of data about things, hereafter “tiles” or its homonym “Tilz.” The user 2001 acquires a Tilz about something, such as a product (it is understood that the Invention applies not just to products, but also to people, animate and inanimate objects, ideas, et. al.), by one or more of the aforementioned facilities/modalities. Via a vis scanning the barcode 2003 of the product or interrogating the RFID 2004 tag of a product, a Tilz may be returned directly, or indirectly via means wherein the query returns the Internet Protocol (IP) address where more information, the Tilz, may be found for that product. (Other Invention embodiments not involving barcode/RFID facilities are conceived wherein the same or similar data gathering and presentation is accomplished by more conventional vehicles such as Websites or other means.) Users may also acquire Tilz via network or inter-network (Internet) 2005 means, such as pointing a browser to the Webpage wherefrom Tilz for that product may be downloaded or otherwise acquired. Additionally, users may also acquire Tilz for the product via peer-to-peer 2006 means, such as via Bluetooth from, for example, another user who already has the desired Tilz for that product, say on their mobile device. Other peer-to-peer embodiments such as, but not limited to, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine interactions, facilitated by any number of communication modalities, may be utilized to acquire a Tilz about a particular product. Other modalities 2007 are contemplated, consistent with the principles of the Invention. And further, other embodiments not involving Tilz are conceived wherein the same or similar data tracking and presentation is accomplished by more conventional vehicles such as Websites (or other means).
  • Once a user has acquired 2002 one or more Tilz about an object, the resultant Tilz, which is the profile of that object, is presented to the Invention's client and/or server software, for sorting into profiles 2008, which consist of logical groups and/or subgroups of one or more Tilz. FIG. 20 illustrates several sample user profiles including the user's movie profile 2009, wine profile 2010, travel profile 2011, groceries profile 2012, and other profiles 2013.
  • A user's profiles 2008, are then presented to the Coupon Widge client/server software 2014 which in embodiments may include profile matching algorithm facilities 2015, user profile database/storage facilities 2016, ad profile creation facilities 2017, ad profile management facilities 2018, ad serving/provisioning facilities 2019, ad storage facilities 2020, transaction facilities 2021, payment facilities 2022, security facilities 2023, internal rules facilities 2024, external rules facilities 2025, analytics facilities 2026 and/or other facilities. One or more of the foregoing facilities then processes the incoming/active profile, by a variety of means not limited to extracting keywords and metadata from the constituent Tilz containing that object's profile.
  • For each profile 2008 submitted to Coupon Widge, the user makes selections (or chooses to accept automatic defaults or system 2000 generated recommendations) regarding what types of data the user would like to receive, or not receive, vis a vis that profile. Granularity of data control extends to the individual Tilz within a profile. Additional choices regarding data reception control include, but are not limited to how, when and where users receive information about the product. (Incoming information about a product is hereinafter assumed to be received via data tiles or Tilz.) The types of data a user may wish to receive regarding a product include but are not limited to coupons, offers, information, or other data/content.
  • For example, a user who just bought 50 items at a grocery store may scan the barcode at the bottom of the user's receipt, and thereby automatically receive a Tilz for each and every item they purchased. These grocery item Tilz may then be sorted into the user's groceries profile 2012. If the user only eats Wheaties cereal, the user may elect to block, REJECT, any competing cereal coupons (which might annoy the user, who only purchases and eats Wheaties). However, a user who is a buyer of Minute Maid orange juice, and is open to receiving orange juice coupons may therefore set their Coupon Widge preference profile regarding orange juice coupons to ACCEPT.
  • Users may fine tune, set the granularity of, or otherwise adjust Accept/Reject criteria via the internal rules facility 2024 or other facilities. Internal rules 2024 (such as those set by the user) and external rules 2025 (such as those set by wireless carriers, and/or other third parties) are applied to user's profiles and affect various aspects of coupon delivery and presentation. Examples of rules that can be set manually (by the user) or automatically (by Coupon Widge's algorithm facilities 2015) include: 1) How, when, where to receive coupons (for instance certain types of multimedia coupons should be delivered to a user's TV from 7-9 PM on weeknights, other types of coupons are to be delivered via car radio while the user is driving home from work; and still other coupons are to be delivered to the user's handset at any time); and 2) Coupon reminders: 36 months from now start tire coupons. Coupon Widge can log the date the user purchased/installed new tires, and, if the user wishes, blocks tire coupons until the user is likely to be in the market again for tires. Conventional targeted advertising fails miserably in this regard: if a user purchases new tires today, then that user doesn't need to see tire coupons for, say, 3 years or 36,000 miles. And though the user isn't in the market for tires, that user may in fact use the word “tires” in the meantime, say in an email. Yet a conventional “targeted” advertising approach would likely serve that user tire-related coupons (wasting the user's time, and the advertiser's money) during those 3 years.
  • Once one or more profiles has been processed, Coupon Widge 2014 makes one or more profiles available to select entities 2028 via a user profile broadcast 2027, hereafter “ComCloud” aka “commerce communications cloud” (or other means). A user's ComCloud may be broadcast by a plurality of modalities including Bluetooth, WiFi, wireless carrier network, Internet, infrared (IrDA), and/or other available means. For example, a user walking downtown along the sidewalk FIG. 29, may choose to have Coupon Widge broadcast the user's ComCloud 2903 (such a broadcast is referred to herein as a “CloudCast”) via Bluetooth in such a manner that Coupon Widge acts as a shield against information overload; a number of businesses 2907, 2908, 2909 along the user's path, may wish to send coupons 2904, 2905, 2906 via WiFi to the user's mobile handset, however Coupon Widge 2910 can block the undesired coupons, and accept just those the user wishes.
  • In embodiments, Coupon Widge matches the profiles of various entities 2028, against the user's profiles 2016, seeking matches for content (info/coupons/et. al.) desired by the user against content available by the entity. Such entities may include, manufacturing entities 2029 (such as the manufacturer of Minute Maid orange juice), retail entities 2030 (such as grocery stores), advertising/marketing entities 2031 (such as ad buying agencies or market research firms), other users 2032 (who may, for example, share a similar profile), and/or other entities 2033 (who may, for example, share a similar profile).
  • In other embodiments, where entity profiles are not made directly available to Coupon Widge, Coupon Widge searches other sources such as existing online profiles/data, and performs (profile) matching against same.
  • Once one or more matches has been established, Coupon Widge, as per the user's profile preferences, makes the user's profile available to the selected entity, for free or for a fee 2022 (which the user receives a portion of). Based upon the user's profile, the entity then decides whether or not to pay 2022 to send the user coupons/offers/information/et. al. as per the user's preference profile. If the payment amount is non-zero, the user receives a portion of said monies.
  • Those skilled in the art may appreciate that entities already pay to get their coupons/information to users; they pay middlemen entities, which make guesses as to which users might be interested in that entity's coupons. Middlemen currently peddle profiles based upon guesses (often obtained by spying on users' online activities), and those guess-based profiles are sufficiently valuable that coupon-sending entities pay middlemen to acquire such guess-based profiles. With Coupon Widge, guesses about what users want/need are replaced by facts, from users, who create, manage and monetize their own profiles—automatically via Coupon Widge. With Coupon Widge, coupon-sending entities no longer need to guess which customers and potential customers to reach and how to reach them. And since customers and potential customers instead manifest their profiles directly, via Coupon Widge, to such entities, middlemen may be disintermediated. Thus, in a logical value-for-value transaction, users are paid for the inherent value of their profiles, which because they are based-upon actual products/services a user actually utilizes, are more accurate, and thus more valuable, than the guess-based profiles from middlemen common to the conventional art.
  • For example, the orange juice user might (be paid to) receive a coupon from Minute Maid, which thereby hopes to convince the user to stay loyal to Minute Maid. However, if the user sets their Coupon Widge preferences 2018 to accept coupons/offers/information/et. al. 2019 from competing entities, the user might be paid 2022 to receive a coupon from a Minute Maid competitor, such as Florida's Best orange juice, which thereupon presents discounts/information in their coupon endeavoring to cause the user to switch brands.
  • Users 2000, via Coupon Widge 2014, interact with coupon-sending entities 2028 via their profile broadcast 2027. Examining the user's profile 2016 enables coupon-sending entities 2028 to customize the coupons. And coupon-sending entities send coupons 2019 to users who solicit same vis a vis their Coupons Widge profile preferences 2018. Hence the present Invention: interactive, multimedia, customized, user-solicited coupons 2000.
  • FIG. 21 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein a user 2101 scans 2103 a movie ad in a newspaper 2117, whereupon the user's movie profile 2105 is updated, and thereby the movie-providing entities 2107 send coupons, offers, and information 2114 per the user's profile 2115. For example, a user 2101 reading the Sunday newspaper is looking through the movie section and comes upon an ad 2117 for a movie the user wants to see “The Godfather.” In embodiments the user 2101 utilizes the user's mobile handset 2102 to scan the IP-based barcode on the ad 2117 for “The Godfather.” The IP-barcode includes the IP address where more information about the movie “The Godfather” can be found, and returns that information to the user's Ad Widge in the form of a data tile (a Tilz). This Tilz may include information such as theater times near the user, prices for DVDs in various store near the user, dates when the this movie will be available on a premium channel such as HBO, et. al. The Tilz users receive are customized based upon the profile of the person scanning the ad.
  • In embodiments the Coupon Widge algorithm facility 2015 may process the received Tilz by heuristic methods that utilize information within the metadata appurtenant to the Tilz. The algorithm facility 2015 may then promote or demote individual elements comprising the user's list of names of profiles, in order to proffer to the user the name of the suggested profile to place “The Godfather” Tilz in. After receiving the user's query response, which might include the user choosing a profile other than the one suggested by Coupon Widge, or manually creating a new profile category, “The Godfather” Tilz is sorted 2104 into the desired profile, the user's movie profile 2105. Coupon Widge then presents 2107 the user's movie profile 2105 to appropriate entities 2108, 2109, 2110, 2111, 2112, 2113, such as those entities which can supply the user the movie “The Godfather.” Said entities then review the user's movie profile to determine if they would like to interact/transact with the user—a purported movie goer. For those entities 2108, 2109, 2110, 2111, 2112, 2113 that determine that the user 2101 is a party to whom they wish to advertise (or otherwise interact with or send information, et. al. to), those entities then send coupons, offers, information, et. al 2114 as per the user's profile 2115.
  • For example, the first place a user can usually experience a particular movie is in the theater, so movie theaters 2108 near the user, which are playing the movie the user wants to see, might pay the user to send an coupon that also touts that theater's high-end audio systems. Or another theater might make the user the following offer: purchase a movie ticket, and for just $7 more, the user can receive a download (the DVD Tilz) of the movie they are watching, while they are watching the movie, via Bluetooth or other means to the user's mobile handset. The next place a user can usually consume a movie is on pay-per-view. Pay-per-view may be offered by the user's television service provider, which can make a customized offer or discount coupon to the user to watch the movie. Next stores near the user that sell DVDs 2110 may wish to send coupons to this movie going user, to entice the user to come in and purchase the DVD in their store—which enticement may be sweetened by a customized offer. Next online stores that sell DVDs 2111 may make offers to the user. Next premium channels such as HBO may make offers or send coupons to the user; followed by other entities that can provide the movie desired by the user may wish to send coupons/offers/information/et. al. to the user.
  • It should be noted that a user's profile 2105 may include a preference for accepting coupons/offers/information/et. al. from related parties—in this case, say from food vendors, for delicious snacks and/or refreshing beverages that the user may wish to enjoy while watching the movie.
  • Finally, the Tilz that users receive are transactable objects, and thus users can make purchases directly from coupons, even offline coupons. In embodiments, users scan an offline coupon 2117 in a newspaper, and receive the Tilz for that product. That data tile (Tilz) may include profile-based links to one or more Websites where the user can purchase the product. Alternatively, the Tilz itself may include the ability to purchase the product. This functionality may be informed by the use of third party servers or Websites. Such use however, may not be apparent to the user as per the Coupon Widge graphical user interface, in order to provide a more user-friendly streamlined shopping experience. Order fulfillment may be effected by interface to, for instance, the product manufacturer/distributor/retailer's e-commerce Website (or other order fulfilling entity or process).
  • FIG. 22 is a functional block diagram illustrating a depiction of a user's coupon profile 2201, and the constituent elements therein 2202; in addition to a depiction of an embodiment of a simple schematic illustrating the functional relationships between the user 2211 and the product and service providers 2216 who wish to advertise 2215 to the user, and highlights the role that the Invention's client-side coupon profile matching facility 2213 plays in the process; in this case via the user's mobile handset 2212.
  • Coupon Widge is a real world coupon/information platform. Life takes place in the real world, via, for instance, interaction with the real world objects a person actually utilizes in their life. To that end, the Coupon Widge platform is accessible by devices such as mobile handsets 2203, which, pending a compelling blend of hardware/services, may emerge as the next primary computing platform, and represent the first computing platform which a user might have on their person during their every waking hour. A user's profiles can live on the user's devices, not just on the Internet or other servers. Thus, the Coupon Widge client-side software, which resides on the user's digital device of choice, enables users to create profiles 2202 as well as broadcast (CloudCast) 2204 profiles 2202 therefrom. Such profiles may include things such as: Profiles of the items they want to buy; Profiles of the types of people they want to date; Profiles of their appliances, which at some point will inevitably need replacing/repair; Profiles of those items they are performing searches for; And so on. With Coupon Widge, users interact with the profiles of others, objects, entities to get what they want/need, with far less time and effort.
  • In embodiments users CloudCast 2204 their Coupon Widge profile 2201 directly from their mobile handset 2203 via means such as Bluetooth, or peer-to-peer via various means (such as infrared IrDA), wireless carrier network, or other means (such as via the Internet). Thus as the user moves about in their real life, they can be constantly adding to and updating the profiles 2202 vis a vis the things they utilize in their life, and thereby constantly benefit by this realtime profile. Via Coupon Widge users essentially carry around their wants and needs (in the form of profiles), and have wants and needs met, with far less effort than as per the conventional art.
  • Even if a user's profiles 2202 are created and hosted locally, for instance on a user's mobile handset 2212, users can also have their profiles stored and matched via (and broadcast from) a remote server (or other device) via the Internet 2214 (or other means). User profiles can even be stored and matched on other devices such a user's PC or TV (and broadcast therefrom via a plurality of communication modalities). Multi-nodal profile synchronization can be performed manually by the user or automatically by Coupon Widge as per various rules 2024, 2025.
  • Companies (product and service providers 2216, including product manufacturers and retailers, as well as various advertising/marketing entities) can view user profiles 2202 and make decisions manually, or companies can create and surface their own profiles, optionally utilizing Coupon Widge, and have their profiles automatically matched in realtime 2213 with other entities/objects/people/companies/et. al. with whom they might want to share/exchange/deliver coupons/offers/information/et. al. 2215. A user's profile 2201, is matched against profiles of various companies, entities, objects, etc. 2216 and can receive information/coupons/offers/et. al. from same. Coupon Widge surfaces, for example, the user's movie profile 2205 to appropriate entities 2216, such as those entities that can supply the movie to this user. Appropriate entities may also, or alternatively, subscribe to a user's profile and thereby receive realtime or asynchronous updates for free or for a fee (as opposed to being notified manually by Coupon Widge, or being notified manually of a profile match from a prospective customer for a product/service that entity provides). Appropriate entities may subscribe to a user's entire profile 2202, or just selected elements, such as a user's clothing profile 2209.
  • Other embodiments of various interaction modalities between coupon senders and coupon receivers pursuant to the principles of the Invention are also envisioned.
  • FIG. 23 is a flow diagram illustrating an embodiment of example process steps followed by coupon-sending entities 2305 as they first pay 2303 a user 2301 to view and review a user's profile 2306, to thereby determine if it's advantageous to pay 2304 to send the user coupons 2312; and further consider paying additional monies 2304 for priority data placement 2313 (an unique variation on paid search, wherein the user is paid; as opposed to paying a middleman/search entity).
  • In embodiments, via Coupon Widge 2302, the user's profiles 2201 created as per FIG. 20, are made available to coupon-sending entities, who pay 2305 the user 2301 for the rights to examine and evaluate 2306 said profiles. Advertisers may pay the user a one time fee, for access to the user's profiles for a fixed amount of time, or may subscribe to the user's profiles as per a fixed or ongoing periodical fee structure. Based upon the profile information, advertisers then decide 2307 if it is advantageous to pay the user to send ads to said user. If not 2308, then advertisers may offer to send coupons for free. Users may interact with advertisers directly or let Coupon Widge negotiate 2311 on behalf of the user. In this case Coupon Widge sets flag to ACCEPT for the subject coupon if the user has set their preference profile MIN_CHARGE (minimum charge) to zero. If not the subject coupon profile flag is set to REJECT.
  • In the case where the coupon-sending entity considers it advantageous to send this user coupons, which sets a transaction flag to PROCEED, Coupon Widge then presents the coupon-sending entity with the user's MIN_CHARGE fee. For any given profile, vis a vis setting the MIN_CHARGE, users may set the fee manually or let Coupon Widge set the fee. Coupon Widge may set the fee based upon a plurality of factors, including but not limited to comparing MIN_CHARGE fees for other users with a profile similar to the subject user, for the same or similar products (which may be derived by, among other means, matching product metadata tags).
  • At this point 2309, the coupon-sending entity is either willing or unwilling to meet the user's MIN_CHARGE. If so, the transaction flag is set to PROCEED, and the coupon-sending entity pays the user to send coupons 2312. If not, the coupon-sending entity may negotiate 2310 with the user, via Coupon Widge 2311, a lower price to PROCEED. Again, the user may either manually accept this lower price (in response to a query from Coupon Widge) or allow Coupon Widge to negotiate on behalf of the user, as per the above description. If no agreement on price is reached the transaction flag is set to STOP, and after providing both parties a receipt for the failed transaction, the transaction flag is set to END. The transaction receipt detail includes information regarding the profile in question, and the amounts one or both parties was willing to pay/accept for review of same, including the DIFF difference amount that caused the transaction to END.
  • For those situations where a coupon-sending entity is offering an amount less than the user is willing to accept Coupon Widge may negotiate 2311 on the user's behalf if the user has set a DIFF percentage, by which means Coupon Widge may accept/reject a proposed profile review fee from an advertiser; for example, a user may set a MIN_CHARGE of X monetary units/credits, but set a DIFF percentage of 10%, enabling Coupon Widge to accept a bid of 0.9X, or more, monetary units/credits. (Other embodiments are envisioned wherein ParaSites negotiates on a user's behalf without necessarily setting a DIFF percentage).
  • Understanding that a user may receive several coupons from several different coupon-sending entities, a coupon-sending entity may wish to promote its coupon to the top of the stack. In which case the coupon-sending entity pays the user a premium fee to the user for priority data placement 2313. The process for setting and agreeing to the priority data placement fee can be effected via a number of modalities consistent with the principles of the Invention, including an auction. In the case of an auction, in embodiments, Coupon Widge presents each of the coupon-sending entities a dataset, which details the order in which Coupon Widge will be presenting the coupons to the user. Coupon Widge informs the coupon-sending entities that Coupon Widge is accepting bids, consisting of additional monetary units/credits, for top priority vis a vis the ordered list detailing the order in which Coupon Widge will present the coupons to the user. After receiving all the bids (for which a TIME_LIMIT may be set), Coupon Widge re-sets the priority order in which the coupons are presented to the user according the #1 position to the highest bidder, the #2 position to the second highest bidder, and so on. Equal bid amounts are ordered as per various factors including according higher priority to bids received before other bids.
  • In embodiments, if and when a fee amount is accepted both by parties, for any of the above described or other cases, payment is effected by the payment facility 2022, 2303, 2304, with Coupon Widge 2302 receiving a portion of the monies/credits. (Coupon Widge only gets paid, when users get paid). Payments start at zero. Only when a user proves to the satisfaction of the coupon-sending entity, does the user 2301 receive a non-zero payment amount.
  • FIG. 24 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example of an unique coupon management facility, wherein coupons/offers/information/et. al. 2402, 2403, 2404, a user receives are received in thumbnail tiles (Tilz) that are mapped onto (in this case) a sphere 2401; whereupon the sphere information management facility (hereafter “Spherez”) attracts like content to it, for which the user may be paid directly by the coupon-sending entity, for prominent placement on the user's topic-specific information spheres (Spherez).
  • It may be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that fields such as search are becoming inextricably linked to advertising (and the coupons that result therefrom), and thus embodiments that relate to search/advertising warrant exploration.
  • With Coupon Widge users can, for the first time, actually actively manage their coupons 2402, 2403, 2404, 2406, 2407, 2408. And with Coupon Widge Spherez, coupons achieve a unique level of capability and usability—thus making coupons far more valuable to users—literally making users lives better. For example, if a user's microwave oven is 10 years old, and needs replacing, the user, in embodiments, scans the barcode/RFID of their microwave oven to receive the data tile 2402 (Tilz) on their mobile handset. The received Tilz is mapped onto an information navigation facility called a Spherez 2401, which appears on the user's mobile handset screen. Spherez 2401 enable users to manage the coupons/offers/information/et. al. they receive.
  • As per the conventional art, a user who needed to replace their microwave oven would most likely sit down at their PC, and utilize a search engine to seek out information about microwave ovens. In fact, as per the conventional art, users often have to become a mini-expert when they need to accomplish something: find a reliable plumber to fix the leaking kitchen sink, figure out how to increase their child's chances of getting into the desired nursery school, or in this case, find a replacement for their aging microwave oven. As per the conventional art a user is likely to take a significant deal of time, trying to learn about microwave ovens: what's new since the user last purchased a microwave?; which manufacturer's are reliable?; should the user purchase the microwave online or at a local store near the user? (taking into account such issues such as product returns and repairs).
  • And as step #1, which ovens are right for me? As per the conventional art, a user would likely have to try to locate a tape measure, then go into their kitchen attempt to measure the dimensions of the opening of their cabinetry in which their current microwave resides. At which point the user realizes the microwave also provides the cooktop ventilation. The user may scribble down all this information on a piece of paper, which they have to take back to their PC utilize as the starting point for a long and rambling search for suitable replacement microwaves.
  • During the conventional art search process (which is funded by the appurtenant advertising, such as paid search), the user's time is being expended, and monies are being made by the search provider. Monies paid to search providers increase the costs of goods. Product makers build their marketing/advertising costs into the price of their products. Therefore every dollar that goes into a search engine's pocket is ultimately a dollar taken out of a user's pocket.
  • With Coupon Widge other entities take their time supplying information to the user, and it is the user who gets paid.
  • The Tilz 2402 for the user's microwave oven, contains the profile for the user's microwave oven. With Coupon Widge users don't have to become a mini-expert for all the problems they need to solve during the course of their regular life. With Coupon Widge, the user doesn't have to research the dimensions of their microwave, or try to discover the power requirements, or if it is a combination microwave/cooktop vent model. The user doesn't need to know any such details. In embodiments the user, via Coupon Widge, simply indicates that their microwave oven needs replacement and drags the Tilz for their old microwave oven from the blocked coupons (REJECT) profile, to the seeking coupons (ACCEPT) profile. And, in embodiments, within seconds, two things happen: the user starts receiving profile-informed coupons/information, and the user gets paid to receive same.
  • Only those entities which manufacture microwaves that fit the proper dimensions, and include required functionality (such a cooktop venting) send coupon Tilz or offer Tilz or information Tilz to the user. And only those bricks and mortar stores near the user send the user coupons, hoping to convince the user to purchase the microwave at their store.
  • If a manufacturer made a microwave oven that did not include the cooktop venting function (and thus would not meet the user's needs) were to send the user a coupon or information Tilz, it would be a waste of that company's time and money (as the user won't be buying their product) thus they are automatically disincentivized from bombarding the user with coupons.
  • In response to the newly flagged ACCEPT condition vis a vis microwave ovens in the user's Coupon Widge profile, the user may start to receive additional coupons/offers/information/et. al. 2403, 2404 presently. The Spherez maps these Tilz onto the sphere in such a way as to site the most closely matched responses as close as possible to the key position 2402 on the Spherez—currently occupied by the Tilz 2402 for the user's current microwave. Coupon Widge's profile matching algorithm facilities 2015 compare the profile of the incoming Tilz to the user's current microwave and place the best matches 2403, 2404 as close as possible to the key Tilz for the user's microwave 2402.
  • Alternatively if the user's Coupon Widge profile allows, coupon-sending entities can pay the user for premium data placement 2313 on the Spherez 2401 (a variation on paid search advertising wherein the users get paid, as opposed to the search engine middlemen as per the conventional art).
  • Several other aspects of the Coupon Widge information navigation modalities are worth noting. First, Spherez is just one of an essentially limitless number of possible embodiments for coupons/offers/information/et. al. presentation. Instead of spheres they may be cubes, or any shape the user desires. Third parties may build other Coupon Widge information navigation modalities (templates) for anyone to use, either for free or for a fee.
  • Spherez are a convenient navigation modality for the smaller screen size of the mobile handset (and work well with a touchscreen wherein the user can navigate the Spherez by flicking with their finger which causes the Spherez to spin, and thereby reveal the desired Tilz). Users on a mobile handset may prefer a handful of relevant search results (as per Coupon Widge), to a million blue links (as per conventional search engines).
  • Spherez attract like content—which revolutionizes search. With a conventional search engine, a search is performed, but the search results are generally not saved. So any given user may do the same search over and over again. With Spherez search results may be saved—the coupons/offers/information/et. al. a user receives related to a given topic may each be maintained on separate profile-based Spherez (that the user can keep indefinitely). FIG. 24 illustrates the user's detergent and microwave oven Spherez. Coupon Widge creates Spherez for each of a user's profiles. For example, a user whose hobby is comic book collecting may have a Comic Book Spherez, which stores current information (Tilz) the user already has, and continues to attract new information, such as upcoming comic book conventions, and offers from comic book sellers. Spherez are “living” entities. That is to say, they continue to function in the background, attracting like content. In the case of the user's microwave oven Spherez 2401, it might continue to attract like content, such as coupons/information about microwavable cookware, or microwave recipes, or information about sterilizing a baby's bottle using the microwave, etc. However, each user's Spherez only attracts content as per that user's profile. Thus each user's Spherez may be different, even if they are about the same topic—such as microwave ovens. If a user doesn't have a baby, that user may not receive the baby bottle sterilization Tilz. A user's profiles inform inbound messaging.
  • With Coupon Widge, search is no longer a process that puts all the burden on the user, instead search becomes something that happens automatically, and continuously, and minimizes the amount of time a user has to invest in the process. Coupons Widge respects the user experience. Conventional search does not. With conventional search, the search engine makes money off users; wherein Coupon Widge makes money with users.
  • Conventional search also fails users in other ways. Consider the case of two users in Paris, each one trying to figure out where to go for dinner. As per the conventional art, they each avail themselves of a search engine, and type in “Paris restaurants.” The search engine, returns the same results for both users. There are billions of users on earth, each of whom are different, yet conventional art search engines return the same results for all users. One-size-fits-all search/advertising is a woefully inadequate solution.
  • Consider the additional case information that one person is a student backpacking through Europe and the other person is the CEO of a large company. Chances are the student wants to pay very little for dinner, while the CEO might be willing to pay quite a lot. Search engines should deliver different results for different people. Yet don't.
  • Ads are information that inform purchase decisions. The two Paris users need information to inform their restaurant choice.
  • Utilizing Coupon Widge is a far more effective way of informing their restaurant choice. In embodiments, Coupon Widge sets their Restaurant profiles to ACCEPT and updates the user's location information. Each user's restaurant profile may consist of a Tilz for each restaurant they've already been to, thus Paris restaurants may make an informed decision as to whether the student's or CEO's restaurant tastes are such that they are a possible match. And if so, those restaurants may send the particular user their coupon Tilz, and potentially pay the user to receive such information 2303, 2304.
  • In embodiments Coupon Widge blurs some aspects of the line between search and advertising. Coupon Widge delivers more relevant information to users; in this case delivering differing and highly relevant sets of coupons/offers/information based upon each user's profile; whereas conventional art search engines treat every single user on earth, as if they all had the same profile. Profile-based search/advertising, as per the present Invention, obsoletes the conventional art.
  • FIG. 24 also illustrates a user's detergent Spherez 2405. Coupon Widge, among many other features, enables a unique realtime challenge coupon process. For example, a user in a store, grabs a box of their favorite detergent, Tide, and scans the barcode with their mobile handset to receive via Coupon Widge any available Tide coupons. If the user has elected, as per their Coupon Widge preference profile, to receive challenge coupons, then the following may take place: the user's Coupon Widge profile is updated in realtime, including any received coupons for Tide. Coupon Widge presents an ordered list of available coupons on the user's mobile handset via the Coupon Widge client-side software. Once the user has selected a coupon, that fact is added in realtime to the user's Coupon Widge profile. Competing detergent companies, for instance, may receive an alert, that a user is actually in the process of purchasing detergent, and furthermore that the user, is about to purchase the competition's brand of detergent. There is no time when a user is more valuable to coupon-sending entities than when a user is actively in the act of making a purchase. In that moment, competitors to Tide, such as Cheer, are likely to make their most aggressive coupon offers, since the user is an active detergent buyer (as opposed to a coupon a company may send to someone who is in fact a detergent buyer, but may or may not be buying detergent anytime soon). And particularly, if the user's Household Items profile indicates that this user has been a loyal Tide buyer for years, it may take a bold gesture on Cheer's part to try to get this user to switch. It is not inconceivable therefore, that the user, via realtime Coupon Widge profile broadcast, may be offered a multi-dollar off coupon from Cheer, and even pay the user, say, 50 cents, just to review the coupon right then and there in the store. The Cheer coupon may include a provision that the coupon is only redeemable on a receipt sans any Tide detergent.
  • Embodiments are virtually endless, and compelling, and unique, and revolutionize aspects of search, marketing, advertising, and merchandising.
  • FIG. 25 is a diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example wherein products 2502, 2503, 2504 are interacting with the user 2505 (via the use of RFID); as per the user's profile, Coupon Widge is allowing the crackers 2502 to send the user information, but not allowing information from the cereal 2504 or soup 2504. Additionally, the diagram illustrates an embodiment of an example of how scanning 2507 the grocery receipt 2508 can, if the user wishes, automatically add those items from that purchase to the user's coupon profile.
  • One of the advertising trends that Coupon Widge enables is (in embodiments) for products 2502, 2503, 2504 to start to interact with shoppers 2505. The average supermarket 2501 in America carries 45,000 items. It would be cacophonous, if thousands of items interacted with a user, as the user walked into/through the store. Instead, users profit from Coupon Widge's shield function—a shield against information overload. Each product on a shelf 2502, 2503, 2504 in a store 2501 has some measure of information about that product available in a plurality of locations, often including Websites. Thus there are profiles of each item available somewhere, that the user can benefit from when entering and/or moving about in, for example, a store.
  • In embodiments such profiles can be “sent” to the user's mobile (or other digital) device as follows: the shelf end-cap under each group of like items has an RFID tag affixed. The RFID tag is encoded with the Internet Protocol (IP) address where more information about that item is located. When a user with a mobile handset 2506 featuring an RFID facility walks near an end cap, the RFID facility can interrogate the RFID tag, and when the IP address is returned, point a browser to that location, and thereby download, in realtime, a data tile (Tilz) about that item. In embodiments Coupon Widge then presents such Tilz in a unique way, by ghosting the Tilz onto the user's mobile device (in such a manner that the opacity of the Tilz is set to a percentage, say 50%) such that the user can see through the Tilz. If the user has a mobile handset with a camera facility, then the user can turn the camera facility on, hold the mobile handset up in the air in front of the user, in such a manner that the user can see the Tilz for various objects appear in realtime, as the user pans across various items on the shelf, which the user can see in the background behind the ghosted-in Tilz.
  • That Tilz is the profile of that item. The profile may include, but not be limited to, such information as price (which via Coupon Widge can be customized and different for different users, as per each user's Coupon Widge profile), nutrition information (calories, fat grams, etc.), ingredients list (including whether such ingredients are consistent with the diet service the user is a member of, and/or is kosher, and/or vegan, etc.), et. al. Thereby for a user who is on, for instance, a low sodium diet, Coupon Widge could alert the user to items that match the user's low sodium diet profile. And further, in embodiments, Coupon Widge then delivers coupons/offers/information/et. al. 2019 to the user, in realtime, if the user's Coupon Widge preference profile 2016 indicates such interaction is desirable, and even purchase the item 2021, 2022, on the spot, via mobile device.
  • Those skilled in the art may appreciate that there are a plurality of alternative embodiments and modalities to those described herein that achieve essentially the same or similar data retrieval and profile matching, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Invention (i.e. in embodiments, everything has a profile, profiles are matched, and thereby more intelligent interactions and transactions are facilitated).
  • In embodiments, once a user has completed their (intelligent) shopping, the user scans the barcode on the bottom of their receipt 2508, and thereby receives an individual Tilz for each items they purchased. With Coupon Widge, users can receive and manage all their Tilz right on their mobile device 2507 (local Tilz; unlike a Website, which is a remote data source that generally requires a network connection to access and utilize). All the Tilz collectively can, for instance, be added to the user's Groceries profile 2208; and individual Tilz added to other more focused profiles, such as Junk Food, Camping Trip Food, etc. or even added to a profile the user might wish their doctor to view, such as the user's Health profile, which might include all the food items a user consumes over a given period of time. Coupon Widge enables a user's doctor or insurance company or other person/entity/machine to subscribe to the one or more of a user's profiles (as per the user's preferences/permissions regarding same 2016, 2024).
  • In embodiments, users automatically receive the Tilz for the items they purchase (without need to scan a physical receipt) when transactions are performed electronically 2021, say via mobile handset 2507, which delivers a Tilz as the digital receipt. The digital receipt includes an individual Tilz for each item the user purchased.
  • FIG. 26 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an example architecture wherein a user's coupon profile 2601 informs how, when and where 2603, 2604, 2605 a user would like to receive coupons, in addition to which coupons to receive 2602.
  • In embodiments a user's Coupon Widge profiles are stored remotely on servers 2601, which coupon-issuing entities 2602 can access via various means including the Internet. Thusly fortified by the data contained in the user's profiles, coupon-issuing entities can send coupons to users, as per the user's profiles which contain preferences (among others) as to how, when and where the user would like to receive said coupons. For example, a user might wish to receive work/business-related multimedia coupons, between 6 PM and 6:30 PM, Monday through Friday, on the car radio 2603, while driving home from work; Multimedia coupons related to household items on the user's TV 2604 from 7-9 PM on weeknights; And all other coupons directly on the user's mobile handset 2605.
  • In other embodiments, users will carry their Coupon Widge profile Tilz around with them, literally on their mobile handset. In this case, coupon-sending entities may obtain and review the user's profile, via interaction with the user's mobile handset 2605 (and therefore, not necessarily via a remote server 2601 that also hosts the user's profiles). The coupon-sending entity 2602 may send the coupon, which is sent to the user in the form of a Tilz, directly to the user's mobile handset 2605. The user may wish to view the coupon via the user's mobile handset or stream the multimedia embodiment of the coupon from the user's handset to the user's car radio 2603 or TV 2604. In embodiments, Coupon Widge facilitates same as follows: the coupon-issuing entity 2602 sends the coupon to the user's mobile handset 2605 in the form of a Tilz. As the user is driving home, the radio broadcast includes notification signals in the metadata broadcast alerting appropriate devices, such as the user's mobile handset 2605 that a commercial break is coming up, and if the user's coupon serving facility 2019 (Coupon Widge) has any coupons to insert, indicate to this station now (so the regularly scheduled commercial can be muted) and stream them from the mobile handset 2605 via Bluetooth in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds BEGIN_USERAD.
  • In a situation where a content provider is serving coupon advertising-supported content, the content provider's coupon server 2602 first checks with the user's Coupon Widge profile 2601, before coupons for products or services being shown in a video, TV program, movie, Website 2606, etc. are served to the screen. In embodiments, the multimedia coupon will be streamed from the user's mobile handset 2605 to the user's PC 2609 which is displaying the Website 2606 where the video is playing. Users may be presented with a choice of coupons 2607 or 2608. Based upon the user's selection, the user's Coupon Widge profile may be updated locally on the user's mobile handset 2605 (if within, say, Bluetooth distance of the PC 2609), or remotely via the Internet to the Coupon Widge servers 2601 containing the user's profiles.
  • Those skilled in the art may appreciate that a user may utilize other digital devices that are similar to or different from a mobile handset, featuring wireless carrier service or not; Such devices are consistent with the principles of the Invention, and are thusly encompassed herein by inference.
  • FIG. 27 is an illustrative example of an embodiment of the profile creation process depicting one of a plurality of profile creation and management user interface screens 2701; in this case, manual profile creating via checklists or barcode scanning 2710 (as opposed to the Invention's automatic profile creation facilities).
  • In embodiments, users can utilize one of a plurality of data input screens to configure their Coupon Widge profile. Coupon Widge can maintain a Coupon History which can be imported into the Create Coupon List user-interface screen 2701. Users can see all their past coupons, in this example, the Groceries profile, broken down by various categories such as Bakery 2702, Beverages 2703, Cheese 2706, Frozen 2707, and Grocery Misc. 2708. Within a category, such as Bakery 2702, users can view an ordered list (per a plurality of sort options) of baked goods which the user has redeemed a coupon for. For example, the subject beta test user redeemed nineteen 2705 coupons for Omega Seeded Bread 2704. If the user wanted to solicit another coupon for Omega Seeded Bread the user could place a checkmark in the box to the left of the Item Name.
  • For new items the user has not received a coupon for in the past 2709, the user can add them in a plurality of ways including scanning 2710 the barcode/RFID of the item, which adds the Item Name into the appropriate category, as per the available metadata (Tilz) about the item. Coupon Widge will either suggest a category or ask that the user enter the category manually. Alternatively, the user can navigate to a blank line in any category and simply type in the Item Name, and then place a checkmark in the box to the left of the Item Name. Placing a checkmark in a box causes Coupon Widge to query one or more databases to see if Coupon Widge has, or has access to, the metadata (Tilz) for that item. If so the new item is then added to that category; if not, then Coupon Widge performs a search to find the exact product desired and disambiguate among a plethora of possible candidates if such is the case.
  • For existing items, placing a checkmark in a box causes the profile for that Item Name to be flagged ACCEPT—and thereby solicit available coupons as per descriptions herein.
  • The cumulative redemption totals for each Item Name are logged, and displayed on embodiments of the Create Coupon List user interface screen. Such data can also, at the user's option be made available (for free or for a fee, which the user shares in) to select interested entities.
  • FIG. 28 is a functional block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an exemplifying architecture of a method for server-side 2807 profile configuration and transaction facilitation as per mobile handset 2809 scanning 2810 and broadcast 2812.
  • A user's coupon profile 2809 is updated as a result of an ad 2810 the user scanned in their morning newspaper, then as the user 2813 is walking to work, various commercial enterprises 2814, 2815 attempt to send coupons to the user's mobile handset 2812. The user is shielded from information overload by the user's instantly updated coupon profile 2809 which dictates which coupons the user desires, and which the user does not. And is alerted to a desired transaction involving the coffee shop 2814.
  • Coupon Widge server-side facilities 2807 are provided. A profile serving and matching facility 2802 is configured to transmit profiles (Tilz) to remote devices. The profile serving and matching facility 2802 includes algorithms configured to filter and match a plurality of available coupons based upon metadata for each coupon against profiles of items a user has indicated a desire to receive (or not) coupons for. A database server 2803 facilitates user profiles and preferences, as well as a rules facility by which certain actions must accord.
  • Users create new or update existing profiles by a plurality of means, including, for instance, scanning an ad 2810 in a newspaper for an item a user is interested in. The scan results in a query which returns a data tile (Tilz), about the subject item, to the user's mobile handset 2809. For example, if the user scanned an ad 2810 for Acme coffee beans, and received the Tilz for same, the user, via the client-side Coupon Widge widget 2809 queries the user as to whether or not the user would like to receive Acme coffee bean coupons. The user's profile is updated presently by (the Coupon Widge client-side software on the user's mobile device, and/or) the Coupon Widge server-side facilities 2807, which receive transmission of the query results via a plurality of communication modalities 2808. The user's updated profile is returned therefrom to the user's Coupon Widge widget for inclusion in the user's profile broadcast (ComCloud) 2201.
  • As the user 2813, walks along and passes a number of commercial entities, said entities attempt to send various information to the user's mobile handset 2812. In embodiments Coupon Widge REJECTS all information, based upon the user's Coupon Widge profile, not flagged for ACCEPT. So for instance information-sending attempts by the burger joint, bookstore, copy shop, and pub 2815 all failed—as Coupon Widge protected the user against such information overload. Coupon Widge did let through the communication from coffee shop 2814, because Acme coffee beans are sold therein, and a coupon for same was proffered to the user. The user might not have known that that particular coffee shop sold Acme coffee beans were it not for Coupon Widge facilitating such an interaction/transaction.
  • In embodiments, the commercial entities review the user's profile, as broadcast directly from the user's mobile handset 2812, and if their wares match the user's wants, could then send, via Coupon Widge, a coupon to the user.
  • In embodiments, both the user and the commercial enterprise broadcast their profiles, whereupon the Coupon Widge profile matching facility (either client- or server-side) can alert the user to matches and present the resultant coupons.
  • In embodiments Coupon Widge searches other sources, accessed for instance, via the Internet 2808, for Acme coffee beans (data tiles) and/or coupons therefore, and if found, the Coupon Widge Web server 2801 presents the coupons to the Coupon Widge website 2804 wherefrom the user may display via their mobile handset 2812 the coupon's 2806 machine readable barcode for redemption at the coffee shop. Similarly the coupon can be sent to the user via modalities such as email, which the user might access from a PC 2805 and therefrom print the coupon 2806.
  • In embodiments Coupon Widge may be configured as a Web-based application 2804.
  • FIG. 29 is a depiction of an embodiment of an example wherein both product/service providers 2907, 2908, 2909 as well as the user 2901 broadcast their profiles 2904, 2905, 2906, 2903, which are then profile-matched 2910 by the Invention; thereupon filtering for just those coupons/offers/info/et. al. the user 2911 desires.
  • Profile-based interactions and transactions are sufficiently superior to the conventional art that a shift to same without profile-matching facilities 2910 would be cacophonous. Coupon Widge facilitates such profile-matching 2910 via a plurality of means and modalities. For instance, all parties may broadcast cast their wants and needs 2904, 2905, 2906, 2903 via the Internet, and via client-side facilitation such profile-matching occurs.
  • Alternatively, such broadcasts may be facilitated entirely via local means and modalities. In embodiments, a user locally 2901 CloudCasting the user's Coupon Widge profile 2903 (say via Bluetooth) encounters various businesses 2907, 2908, 2909 also CloudCasting 2904, 2905, 2906 via local means, such as WiFi. Without need for a wireless carrier network, the user can receive just those coupons/offers/information/et. al. desired as per Coupon Widge's client-side profile matching facility 2910 configured for operation on the user's 2911 mobile handset 2912.
  • Peer-to-peer, user-to-machine, and machine-to-machine transactions are likely to skyrocket in the coming years, and be facilitated by an innovative system, method, service and platform such as the Invention.
  • These and other objects and features of the present Invention may become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the description and practice of the Invention as set forth hereinafter.
  • The Invention description makes reference to barcode/RFID scanners on mobile handsets, however the same or similar information may be acquired by other means and/or modalities such as sourcing information via a Website, and/or by utilizing devices other than mobile handsets, consistent with the principles of the Invention, and therefore alternative means, modalities and devices are included herein by inference.
  • The Invention consists primarily, though not exclusively, of a Website, server software, and a widget (Webified mini-software application) that together facilitate a novel method for delivering and receiving advertising. Via the Website (easily accessible and usable via mobile handset) or widget, users create an account. Users then create a profile of items (or types of items) they would like to see coupons for. Advertisers receive permission from the users for the right to both view the user's coupon profile and send coupons to the user as per the user's coupon solicitation profile. Advertisers then deliver coupons to all the users who indicated a desire to receive a coupon for that specific product or service.
  • Misc.
  • When issuing a coupon, coupon vendors may, at the Coupon Widge user's option, send one additional directly related coupon (which is the digital equivalent of the obverse of the physical coupon).
  • In embodiments the Coupon Widge site is pre-populated with a list of various types of businesses, service providers, etc. similar to those in phonebooks, which may aid the user in building a list of specific entities or classes of entities from which the user may want to receive coupons. In embodiments the user then creates a profile listing the items they may want coupons for, including via means such as scanning the product barcodes/RFID of everyday items they use.
  • In embodiments when the Coupon Widge widget is active on a user's mobile handset, and the user is scanning a barcode, a query bubble (Tilz) pops up and asks: “Start Coupons for this Item, Stop Coupons for this Item, or Sorting Bin” If the user selects the Sorting Bin, the item is stored in a general folder that the user can come back to later and sort into the correct coupon profile later (or have an automatic sorting facility accomplish the same (automatically)).
  • Once the user has established a Coupon Profile, the user can receive coupons sent via the Internet or other means such as WiFi or Bluetooth. For example, let's say a user 2813 has added Gyms and Coffee Shops 2814 to their Coupon Profile. While walking down the street with the Coupon Widge widget active on their mobile handset 2812, the user can receive coupons according to their Coupon Profile:
  • Solicit, Send, and Receive Coupons
  • A user's Coupon Profile can be synced with the user's other profiles such as Regularly Purchased Items, Gift Registry List, Recreation List or Entertainment List (which may include item such as the restaurants, etc. frequently used by that user). Once the user's Coupon Profile is established Coupon Widge solicits coupon/offers from all service/product suppliers and other entities that match the user's preference profile.
  • Coupon-sending entities can then provision coupons. The Coupon Widge Website comes pre-populated with templates enabling users to create digital coupons. Coupon Widge also encourages third parties to upload digital coupon templates which they can offer for free or for a fee. Coupon senders pay users for the right to send coupons as per the preferences of the user.
  • Users can receive coupons on their mobile handsets (or any digital device of their choice). Once the user has solicited and received coupons, they are ready to redeem them. Coupon Widge coupons can be redeemed in person, by using a mobile handset to display and redeem the coupon at suitably equipped POS (point of sale) stations. Coupons may also be redeemed via mobile payment transaction using a unique ID number for each coupon.
  • In embodiments, the Coupon Widge digital, user-solicited coupon redemption process is executed in three primary steps:
  • 1) Upon presentation of the digital coupon, the shopper receives an immediate discount for the amount of the coupons utilized in the transaction;
    2) The retailer electronically presents the digital coupon to the coupon issuer for payment; and
    3) Once the coupon issuer pays the retailer the coupon face amount (at specified intervals which could be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) plus a small incentive fee, the shopper may receive an incentive such as a payment for utilizing the coupon.
  • All three parties can be paid simultaneously for all-digital coupon transactions (though in some cases coupon issuers will ask that retailers present aggregated audited bundles of coupons for payment). The coupon issuer may induce retailers to use digital coupons by offering a larger incentive fee for using digital (non-paper) coupons.
  • Detailed Coupon Widge Process
  • On a Website (easily accessible and utilized, for instance, via mobile handset) users sign up. Users then create a coupon profile of items (or types of items) they would like to see coupons for.
  • Coupon issuers pay for the right to both view the recipient's coupon profile and send coupons to the recipient as per the recipient's coupon solicitation profile.
  • Coupon issuers deliver coupons to all the recipients who indicated a desire to receive a coupon for that specific product or service.
  • Coupons can be delivered where and how the user selects: such as to social networking sites, online videos, within video games, to mobile handsets or PCs or TVs, and via email, text message or postal mail (or other means). Wireless Internet networks (such as WiFi) enable coupons targeted to specific geographic locations. GPS-enabled mobile handsets enable coupons targeted to even more specific locations.
  • Users can also change coupon receiving venues (for example: stop sending this type of coupon to my mobile handset, and instead send it via postal mail).
  • Coupons are also delivered in a format according to the users' preferences profile: coupons alone, coupons delivered within ads, detailed information on the coupon, just basic savings information, etc. Also users can control when coupons are delivered, especially in the case where users choose to receive coupons on their mobile handset. Users may not want coupons arriving during their work hours, so they can choose to schedule to receive them, say, only from 6-8 PM at night and perhaps during their lunch hour.
  • The Coupon Widge Website also maintains a history, at the user's option, of all past coupons received. A user's Coupon Widge can store a plurality of coupons and make use of them while shopping anywhere in the world.
  • Coupon Widge automatically moves expired coupons into an Expired Coupons folder. Users can make public or share with other users their Coupon List of coupons sought. Users can choose to view coupons in the Website white spaces that result from the use of ad blocking software.
  • In embodiments Coupon Widge coupons have an IP barcode enabling instant purchase of the item via mobile handset—for which the user may be given a discount or paid a rebate.
  • Coupon Profile
  • Users set up a profile indicating the type of items they'd like to receive coupons for, and what format they'd like their coupons to be: email, text messages (SMS), videos (MMS), mobile documents, or postal mail delivered to their home/office. Users can choose, depending upon their preferences profile to receive paper, as opposed to digital, coupons. A user's preference profile (Web Pref) also details how they'd like the information to be presented to them: high level only, intangible benefits, technical details, comparison to competitors, etc.
  • Users can create their own profiles, either explicitly or implicitly, either manually or automatically. Explicitly: via filling out their coupon profile on the Coupon Widge Website or on the user's mobile handset. Implicitly: via means such as barcode/RFID scanning with their mobile handset. Barcode/RFID scanning can, at the user's option, track a user's actual shopping habits. In addition users can scan barcodes of items they are just browsing, but not buying, in offline stores (which enables Coupon Widge to collect data about offline activities not included by today's digital search or advertising tools). Coupon Widge also tracks tag-related search (uTag) results to add a user's online browsing habits to their profile as well. Such barcode scanning can also track where users eat (restaurants) and recreate (sporting events attended, etc.), what users read (which books users read or own or borrow from the library), and where users vacation (hotels, airlines, etc.). Coupon Widge can track, and add to a user's profile, those items on Websites or in TV ads a user requests more information about.
  • In embodiments users can elect to let Coupon Widge automatically create the user's coupon profile based upon the user's barcode/RFID scanning habits. A user's coupon profile can be automatically created via the use of barcode/RFID scanners on mobile handsets to mark those items users are interested in. By scanning those items a user regularly encounters in the user's daily life (such as food items, household items such as light bulbs, DVDs purchases, etc.) it is very simple to build and manage the list of items for which users want to receive coupons for. At the user's choice, Coupon Widge can monitor which items a user barcode/RFID scans and suggest coupons that might be of interest.
  • The product/service Coupon Index List is pre-populated by Coupon Widge but can be added to and maintained by users and product/service vendors who want to make sure their coupons can be found.
  • Many of the offline, real-life items/products/objects in a user's life have a barcode/RFID that can be scanned. In embodiments, only those items that the user chooses to scan will be fed to the proprietary Coupon Widge algorithms which then automatically create the user's coupon profile. The user may also manually edit the coupon profile created by the Coupon Widge software.
  • Users can create a coupon profile to indicate which items they'd like to receive coupons for, and which items they don't want to receive coupons for (as well as items that they are neutral towards receiving coupons for). In embodiments, Coupon Widge features a list of items, with radio buttons next to each item for the user to click: Want Coupons, Don't Want Coupons, or Neutral. For example: if a user just purchased a new treadmill, the user can indicate that they Don't Want any treadmill coupons.
  • Coupon Widge users may utilize a novel type of reverse electronic “cookies” (hereafter My Cookiez)—a token or short packet of data passed between communicating programs—to send coupon profile information to TV's, radios, other devices, and various forms of online and offline activity. For example, when a user is on a Website, Coupon Widge can automatically send that user's cookies (My Cookiez) to that Website's servers (or directly to the company serving the advertising/coupons on that Website) to transmit the user's coupon profile, so the Website can display/deliver user-solicited coupons to the user.
  • Coupon Topic List
  • For each category list topic Coupon Widge collects digital coupons related to that topic. When advertisers create a coupon they also include metadata for the coupon that includes category tags/keywords. Once the coupon (with metadata tags) has been created and placed online the Coupon Widge (uTag) search engine crawls to find tagged coupons and delivers them to the Coupon Widge Coupon Topic profile.
  • Let's say a user wanted to see coupons for a delivery pizza, the user scrolls down to pizza in the Coupon Categories list in Coupon Widge. Coupon Widge collects coupons (based on tag keywords) from various pizza parlors and present the results in a manner described below. The user clicks on the data tile (Tilz) featuring the pizza parlor they would like to see coupons for.
  • Contextual Coupons
  • Users can also set their coupon profile to allow them to receive coupons for things not specifically listed in their coupon wish profile. So for instance while watching a sporting event on TV (or Website or mobile handset or other or listening via digital radio or other) they could receive sports related coupons (offering discounts for upcoming sporting events, sports memorabilia, etc.), but not coupons, for, say, laundry detergent.
  • Blended Coupons
  • Users can choose to allow or disallow blended ads. For example: The San Francisco Giants baseball team might offer a $3 coupon discount coupon for bleacher seats for those users who redeemed a Slurpee coupon at their local 7-11 mini-market the day of the game. Users who are a fans of live sporting events might allow such a blended coupon (which also advertises/coupons a snack food). Users into live music might allow: Digital Arts College of San Francisco presents Expression Session featuring Silver Sun Pickups (band) event coupons (which also advertises this local college).
  • Interest Categories
  • Users can also set their coupon profile to allow coupons anytime, anywhere (Website, mobile handset, postal mail) that meet the user's interest categories. For instance, movie buffs could specify in their profile that they are always open to receiving discount coupons for movie theaters, no matter if the Website they happen to be visiting has anything to do with movies or not (meaning non-contextual ads are OK if they meet the user's specified Interest Categories). And users can even set specifics within an interest category. For example, users could elect to receive coupons for just comedy movies, or just actions movies, or anything with Halle Berry in it, or romantic comedies, or any movies except for foreign films with subtitles.
  • Behavioral Coupons
  • Users can choose to receive coupons based upon the behavior of others with similar profiles, who solicited certain coupons. Such a profile might be: attends sporting events, and wine tastings, and art galleries, married, car lover, age 25-40, etc. A user's behavior profile can be imported from a social networking site, or created from scratch on the Coupon Widge Website. In embodiments the anonymous behavioral coupon matching is accomplished by Coupon Widge servers which compare coupon serving for mathematically constructed groups formed by various aggregations of behavior keywords. All permutations of up to 4 keywords at a time are examined, and clear trends with very high degrees of confidence are used to suggest coupons for a user based upon coupons solicited by others with similar behavior profiles.
  • Affinity Coupons
  • Users can choose to receive coupons based upon the interests or behavior of others in their affinity groups (women, men, college students, elderly, married, single, soccer team, etc.). For example, other women (with similar profiles) wanted coupons for these cosmetics or clothes, so this user might also.
  • Self-Aggregating Groups
  • Before all advertisers switch to one-to-one marketing, some may wish to continue to want to market to larger groups of users. Users can choose to create or join groups of people with similar profiles. Coupon Widge facilitates entente cordiale—the friendly agreement among such users to work together to maximize coupon profile monetization. Coupon Widge aggregates these groups and makes them available to advertisers using, in embodiments, no-personally identifiable information about the users in the group. Users can join, or elect to allow themselves to be automatically added to various groups as they are created. Users get paid for the resultant coupons. Users can also choose to be the curator or host of a group. They might try to create a very large group; or they might want to be very selective about who they let in to the groups to increase the attractiveness to advertisers (and thereby increase the payment per user). Third parties can also choose to curate or host various groups of profiles.
  • Intramedia Coupons or Interstitial Coupons
  • Coupon Widge technology is compatible with embedded coupons within a show, movie, video, photo, document (Tilz) or any digital content, as long as the intramedia/interstitial content supports tags. Users can wirelessly collect such coupons via mobile handset. Intramedia/interstitial content are coupons or content that the user cannot fast forward past or otherwise skip. Intramedia coupons may float on top of part of the existing program. Interstitial coupons are displayed between shows (or during commercial breaks) but, again, cannot be defeated or avoided by the user.
  • Freshness
  • The user's coupon profile indicates to the coupon issuers how recently the user indicated a desire to receive coupons on a given subject. The time and date an item is added to a user's Want Coupons profile is indicated to those viewing the profile. Users who recently indicated an interest for a particular coupon item might be more valuable to advertisers than, say, a user who more than a year ago indicated an interest for that same item. This difference in freshness value is reflected in the price advertisers pay to view a user's profile. The more up to date the profile (on average, across all profile data) the more the marketers/coupon issuers pay the users to view the profile.
  • Interest freshness is automatically set to highest interest level the first time a customer registers a product interest. Then each week (or other time interval) the interest level is automatically lowered along with the price charged advertisers (and commissions paid to users), one notch. The user may countermand this automatic lowering of interest level by manually re-setting it to the highest level—indicating their interest in purchasing such a product is still very high. Users may also re-set the highest level of interest in any given item by scanning its barcode again.
  • This freshness process assures coupon issuers fresh interest on the part of the consumers they market to.
  • Usage Based Suggestions
  • At the user's choice, Coupon Widge, via a proprietary software algorithm, can monitor which items a user barcode/RFID scans and suggest other coupons that might be of interest. The user could also choose to let Coupon Widge automatically create the user's coupon profile based upon the user's barcode/RFID scanning habits.
  • Users can also indicate in their profile that they are willing to let anyone send a coupon—on any subject—if the sender meets the requirements set by the user. The user could then choose to add that coupon to their Want or Don't Want coupon profile.
  • Users Rate Coupons
  • Another unique feature of the Invention is interactivity. Coupon issuers have longed for the ability to find out how relevant/useful the coupons were to various users, in real-time, without the artificial focus-group environment. Users can choose to, or not to, rate the coupons they receive for quality and relevance, as well as suggest improvements. Users can also change coupon receiving venues (for example: stop sending this type of coupon to my house via postal mail, and instead send it to my mobile handset, where the same coupon may receive a higher rating, greater usability via a mobile handset).
  • In this way the Coupon Widge software engine fine tunes the likes/dislikes of its users. And by rating a coupon the very lowest rating, the user can stop all future coupons of that type from that vendor. The user coupon ratings information may, at the user's option, be made available to coupon vendors for free or for a fee. Thus, users are incentivized to rate coupons, since only coupon-rating users will receive a percentage of the income generated by selling Coupon Effectiveness Statistics back to the coupon-sending entities.
  • 4 Types of Ratings
  • 1) Coupon issuers can rate users (e.g. person A is a heavy coupon user, person B rarely redeems requested coupons).
    2) Users can rate the coupons from the advertisers (and/or users can rate the coupon supplying company, the product vendor).
    3) Usage Ratio: for each Coupon Widge coupon solicited Coupon Widge software calculates ratios such as the percentage of coupons requested vs. the percentage redeemed.
    4) Purchase Ratio: Coupon Widge software assigns a score (a rating) that matches a user's purchases against their solicited-coupon profile (Coupon Widge software can track, at the user's option, the percentage of solicited coupons that lead to purchases of that specific product—across all coupons requested and utilized by a given user).
  • Market Research
  • Users who rate the coupons might receive (at the advertiser's choice) additional incentives from the advertiser, which may be in the form of a novel digital, credits-based currency (hereafter “iDough”). Coupon issuers or market research firms can also send more detailed questionnaires about the product/service coupon to selected users whose profile allows this. Thus the Invention enables a new type of real-time market research.
  • User Run Coupon Forums
  • An additional aspect of Coupon Widge interactivity is the user-run forums which give users who wish to discuss the coupons or any other matter/topic, a place to express their views. Advertisers/coupon issuers can pay to view and monitor such forums, however they may not interact with any user unless that user specifically opts-in to interaction with advertisers/coupon issuers in the forums.
  • Widget
  • Coupon Widge's software widget resides on user devices (particularly mobile handsets), and enables (among many other functions) stores, merchants, service providers, etc. to send coupons to a user's mobile handset (or digital device of their choice or in paper form to their home/office), as well as enables users to manage their coupon profile.
  • Purchasing from Coupons
  • Digital barcodes on coupons enable purchasing from coupons. In embodiments, Coupon Widge coupons contain a novel type of IP-based digital barcode (hereafter “Net Dotz”) enabling, among other features, instant electronic purchase of the item. The IP address contains the location where more information about the item can be found. Coupon barcodes are easily scannable by suitably-equipped mobile handsets (Mobis) for online or offline purchases of the ad item. In embodiments, scanning the digital barcode may return transactable tiles of information (hereafter “Tilz”) relating to the ad.
  • In embodiments Tilz function as a focused mini-Website pertaining to just the object from that coupon, enabling (among other features) instant purchases of the coupon item from both online and offline coupons. The user may be given a discount or paid a rebate for purchasing items directly from the coupon, since it saves the product/service maker the expense of paying middlemen such as department stores to stock and sell the item. One advantage of having an IP-based digital barcode such as a Net Dotz on the coupon, is that the vendor can feature the very latest pricing for the item, and even offer different pricing or discounts depending on who the shopper is. The user's reverse cookies, My Cookiez, may, at the user's option, provide the vendor the one or more profiles of the user scanning the digital barcode on the coupon. Furthermore Net Dotz digital barcodes are also electronic so users, for instance, watching TV or listening to the radio can “scan” the electronic digital barcode as they watch TV or listen to the radio, to download the associated data tile (Tilz) coupon to their mobile handset, and effect the purchase therefrom.
  • In embodiments the user may scan the IP-based digital barcode with their mobile handset, and be able to complete the purchase transaction using their mobile handset via the Coupon Widge widget to transmit their credit card information or other payment modality information; or pay via a novel type of credits-based digital currency, iDough.
  • Time Limits
  • There can be time limits put on any of the user's coupon profile list items. If a user just purchased tires, that user doesn't need to see tire coupons for, say, 3 years. The Coupon Widge widget can block tire coupons for three years, and then start allowing/soliciting them 36 months later, depending upon tire need at that time.
  • Preview and Schedule Coupons
  • In embodiments, such as for multimedia coupons, Coupon Widge enables users to preview coupons. Using the COUPON FORMAT described below, coupon-sending entities can also include short, say 10 second long “trailers” for their full length 2 minute detailed product multimedia coupon. If the recipient doesn't wish to view the multimedia coupon based upon the preview, the user's negative rating for the preview is sent back to the advertisers. If the recipient wants to review the full length multimedia coupon, the recipient has the option of scheduling the multimedia coupon for any time/date, or even downloading the multimedia coupon to the recipient's device of choice (mobile handset, PC, TV/set top box, DVR, et. al.) for later viewing at the recipient's convenience. Recipients can also choose to schedule multimedia coupons and other types of coupons via a plurality of manners including, but not limited to: never send again, send again but not for X hours/days/weeks/months/years and/or other options
  • Other Profile Details
  • Users can choose to fill out as much or as little personal information about themselves in their coupon profile. Users can choose to provide, or not, additional information that marketers/coupon issuers routinely seek out via means such as contest entry forms such as gender, age, income, zip code, hobbies, etc. The more information the user provides, the more robust their profile, which likely increases the value of the profile—and thus the amounts paid to the user by entities who pay to view/utilize the user's profile.
  • Instant Coupons
  • Coupon Widge are mobile digital-content format (Tilz) and tags/keywords compatible so, in embodiments, instant coupons can appear, for instance, across the bottom of relevant, coupon-enabled mobile documents (Tilz).
  • Anonymity
  • Users can choose to use an anonymous IP address supplied to them by Coupon Widge to receive all their coupons (via forwarding), without disclosing any personally identifiable information to the coupon issuers.
  • Privacy
  • Coupon Widge addresses some online users' privacy concerns by putting users in charge of their own coupon profile, including which information to disclose to coupon issuers. Coupon Widge does not require users to make their coupon profiles public. Users can keep their profiles private, and anonymously disclose to selected advertisers/coupon issuers just those items they wish to receive coupons for.
  • Security
  • There is some measure of fraud in the coupon business. Unscrupulous individuals and companies sometimes present unused coupons to coupon issuers seeking (undeserved) payment. Coupon Widge combats fraud in several ways. In embodiments Coupon Widge coupons are presented in mobile digital-content format (Tilz), which assigns an unique digital serial number to each coupon. In cases, for instance, where the user presents the digital coupons and/or pays for the transaction electronically (via mobile handset) a digital receipt is created detailing the serial number of each coupon used, and item purchased, in that transaction.
  • Coupon Format
  • In embodiments Coupon Widge coupons appear in an unique proprietary format (Tilz) that is optimized for mobile handsets but is compatible with a plurality of devices/objects (such as PC's, TV's, cellphones, etc.). This proprietary format has numerous features, however one interesting feature enables users to store any coupons (if the coupon issuer allows) on their digital devices for use at a later time. This unique proprietary format also allows coupons to be placed in, around, under, alongside, etc. any digital file (document, video, song, TV show, etc.). Thus via Coupon Widge, solicited coupons can appear, at the user's request, in many new places other than the traditional ones (newspapers, “Value-Packs” of coupons in the mail, etc.).
  • Digital Coupon Formats
  • Coupon Widge can present digital coupons in a plurality of sizes, shapes or formats, particularly so when using the mobile digital-content format (Tilz). Some of the common coupon formats Coupon Widge can place coupons in, without using mobile digital-content format (Tilz), are skins (e.g. wrap a movie coupon around a video), bugs (e.g. a graphic of the item being couponed that slides onto the bottom of a video as it plays: the graphic offers viewers who click on it the ability to wirelessly receive a digital coupon), and tickers (e.g. overlay coupons which insert text or graphics like a ticker-tape at the bottom of a video).
  • Embedded Pictures and Video
  • Coupons are no longer limited to just a small piece of paper. Coupon Widge digital coupons can include a plurality of embedded text and image data tiles (Tilz). Coupon Widge coupons can include a video therein. Coupon Widge coupons can also include an embedded ad in the coupon data tile (Tilz). Furthermore, Coupon Widge coupons support IP barcodes which can summon additional information, or effect interactions or transactions, when the user has Internet connectivity (or by other means).
  • Match My Coupon
  • Match My Coupon enables customers to accept bids from competing products to match or beat a coupon amount. For example, a Coupon Widge user receives a “$1 off Tide laundry detergent” coupon, but just before they use it, selects the Match My Coupon option on the Coupon Widge widget, which then causes their mobile handset broadcast that coupon and ask competing laundry detergent companies or other entities to match or beat that coupon in the minutes/hours/days before the user purchases detergent. The Coupon Widge Match My Coupon offer is displayed on the Coupon Widge Website (or other locations, such as the user's profile CloudCast) for all coupon vendors' servers to monitor and issue realtime coupons if they choose. In embodiments Coupon Widge broadcasts the impending use of a coupon and solicits other coupons that match or beat it. Thereupon local vendors or the store itself or other entities may send a competing coupon to the user's mobile handset.
  • Paid Coupons
  • Paid coupons function in a fashion similar to paid search. In embodiments, users indicate in their profile that they are willing to let anyone send a coupon—on any subject—if the sender pays the user (a user-set minimum amount). The user could then choose to add that coupon to their Want or Don't Want coupon profile. Users can create their own lists of coupons they solicit, but for those users who opt-in to the Paid Coupon option in their Coupon Widge profile, they are indicating to coupon vendors that they are willing to receive coupons from any vendor on either a Selected List of items, or All Items. That is to say, the user will still receive coupons for those items they specifically listed in their Coupon Widge profile, but also are open to receiving coupons from competing vendors. So for instance if they indicated they want Tide laundry detergent coupons in their Coupon Widge profile, but are open to Paid Coupons, then vendors such as Cheer laundry detergent can pay the user for the privilege of sending a coupon for Cheer (in the hopes of causing that consumer to try their product instead of what the consumer usually uses). Users are incentivized to use receive paid coupons because they may be paid more than the usual fee they receive for receiving coupons. The coupon sender may ask if the user liked the coupon (or just be informed whether the user added the coupon to the user's profile). Coupon senders may even conduct mini market research this way.
  • Related and Unrelated Coupons
  • Coupon Widge offers users the option of receiving coupons for products or services related to those which they already indicated an interest in. In embodiments, if the user elects the Related Coupons option, then each time a coupon is sent to the user, that is related to any of their areas of interest the user specifically elected for Related Coupons, a window (Tilz) pops ups and ask if the user if they would like to view a related coupon. For example, buy a pair of shoes, and get paid to receive a socks coupon.
  • Unrelated Coupons function in a fashion similar to Related Coupons but apply to products/services/etc. unrelated to a coupon the user received. Unrelated Coupons users can opt to add restrictions on the Unrelated Coupons pertaining to which device (mobile handset, TV, PC, etc.) the coupon is to be sent to, including time of day and day of week restrictions.
  • Users are incentivized (by the fees they potentially stand to receive) to be open to receiving coupons from vendors they have not previously specifically allowed.
  • For example, if the user was in the market for laundry detergent, and was leaning toward purchasing Tide detergent, a coupon for Tide laundry detergent would appear in the center tile of the data tile sphere navigation facility (Spherez). Then laundry detergents with similar characteristics (tags) would appear in the tiles around the Tide laundry detergent center tile, so that competitors who also have laundry detergent can also present the user their coupons. Coupon Widge calls these Piggy Back Coupons. The user may spin the data tile navigation sphere (Spherez) using finger flicking motions (on a touch-screen capable digital device) to see more related/unrelated results.
  • Sponsored Coupons
  • Sponsored Coupons are coupons that advertisers directly send to users, irrespective of whether the coupon meets that user's solicited-coupon categories list. Users must first choose to allow (explicitly opt-in) to receive such sponsored coupons. For instance, instead of ads that appear during a TV show, relevant coupons (as per each user's profile) can be delivered to all viewers who view the entire episode. This is a new way to monetize content. And viewers could receive coupons to watch a show delivered on a Tilz, then pass the Tilz along to another user.
  • Unique “Missed Demand” Tracking Capability
  • Coupon Widge can provide retailers with information they have never been able to track before: Missed Demand. Missed Demand is defined herein to mean when there are no more left of a particular item on a retailer's shelf, but consumers come to that shelf hoping to purchase that particular out-of-stock (or simply empty-shelf) item. For example, let's say a consumer planning to purchase four bottles of 2 liter Diet Coke goes to a grocery. When the consumer gets to the shelf it is empty. As per the conventional art the store would have no way of knowing how many additional bottles of Diet Coke they could have sold (and thus should have ordered for that sale) had their supply exactly equaled demand. Coupon Widge could sell this Missed Sales or Missed Demand information to retailers (and split this income with each consumer who helped provide the Missed Sales data). Employing Coupon Widge, the store may have the barcode tag on the edge (or end cap) of the shelf where the Diet Coke sits. If the shelf is empty when the consumer arrives, the consumer simply scans the Diet Coke barcode. A message may be sent to the consumer's mobile handset via Coupon Widge asking how many 2 liter Diet Cokes they would have purchased if they were in stock. Once the consumer has indicated the number of missed items they would have purchased a Rain Check coupon is instantly sent to the consumer's mobile handset via Coupon Widge for the number of Diet Cokes sought. (This coupon could be set to expire, say in one week, or any other vendor selectable timeframe.) Everyone wins: the consumer gets a rain check, the grocery store gets the missed demand information sent along with that consumer's shopping club profile information (if they have one), and Coca Cola also gets the data about Missed Sales (to determine store by store sales efficiencies).
  • This “missed demand” data is valuable information that the store (or other entity) may give the consumer a coupon (or other remuneration) for, and the manufacturer may pay consumers for indicating would-be purchase data. Not only that, but stores and manufacturers get this data in realtime. Analytics they've never had available before.
  • Rebates
  • Coupon Widge supports rebates as well as regular coupons. Users don't have to do anything additional to receive rebates, as Coupon Widge will automatically solicit and present rebate coupons whenever the product manufacturer makes them available to Coupon Widge users. In embodiments the Coupon Widge rebate process proceeds as follows: The user scans the barcode (Net Dotz) of the item they just purchased; The user scans the barcode (Net Dotz) of the sales receipt